Skip to main content

Full text of "The gun and its development"

See other formats













Rewritten^ and with many Additional Illnstrations 










This book, first published in 1881, was written with a view to supplying such 
information relative to fire-arms as is most frequently sought by a sportsman- 
Owing to numerous recent inventions it became necessary not only to rearrange the 
matter, but to rewrite the book when the sixth edition was needed. 

The author thanks those critics who have pointed out literal faults in this book, 
and he has done his best to remove ambiguities and correct errors. He sees no 
reason to make any alteration of importance, and, in matters of opinion, adheres to 
what he has already written, so that this ninth edition is, with the exception of 
a few minor alterations and some additional pages upon Gun Trials, "Single Trigger" 
mechanisms, Miniature rifles and the "Rifle Club" movement, practically a reprint 
of the last one. 

In the arrangement of this treatise the author has followed a method which 
appears to him the best suited to convey an accurate idea of different small arms 
and of their capabilities under varying conditions. 

From the nature of the subjects treated it is impossible* that the book could be 
wholly free from technicalities, but no endeavour has been spared to make the 
contents readable ; intricate mechanisms, instead of being described in detail, have 
been freely illustrated ; technical data are presented in tabular form, and theories 
relative to the action of explosives, the flight of bullets and shot pellets, have been 
concisely explained. 

The thanks of the author are due to many sportsmen and others who by their 
investigations and experience have added to his knowledge of guns and gunnery ; 
possibly in some instances the sources upon which the author has drawn have not 
been acknowledged, but the omissions are unintentional. 

The object of the author has been to supply trustworthy information relative to 
fire-arms and their history, but, owing to the quantity and diversity of the contents, 
it is improbable that all errors have been eliminated ; for such as remain the author 
asks the indulgence of readers and critics. Any mistake notified will be corrected 
in future editions and a continuous effort made to render The Gun and its 
Development still more useful to those who have need to consult a shooter's 





A7t appreciation of the author extracted {by permission) from G. T. Teasdale-Buckle's 
book, " Experts on Guns and Shooting^^ published by Sampson Low, Marston !f Co. 

Mr. W. W. Greener, successful before the choke bore, became noted by his 
introduction of it. The history of the firm commences when the late William 
Greener (father of W. W. Greener) returned from London, where he had been 
working for John Manton, and established himself in 1829 at his native town 
of Newcastle. 

Almost immediately he commenced experimenting, with the intention of 
publishing his first book, " The Gun," which appeared in 1835. This work 
dealt nearly exclusively with small arms, and it contains many ideas then new 
with deductions from his numerous experiments supporting them. At this time 
there was scarcely a work on the subject of gunnery, with the exception of Baker's 
book on the rifle, even then out of date. This was followed six years later by 
" The Science of Gunnery," dedicated to Prince Albert, which, besides embodying 
" The Gun," dealt with cannon, and contained criticisms of other workers in the 
same field. 

In November, 1844, finding himself much retarded by the difficulties of 
obtaining materials from Birmingham, W. Greener moved his business to that 
town, and there began to make greater progress. An enlarged edition of his 
second book was published in 1846, and in 1845 the pamphlet "The Proof 
House, The Present Company the Bane of the Trade," was the chief means of 
promoting the Gun Proof Act of 1855. 

We are informed that W. Greener was the first to discard vent holes in the 
breeches, relics of the old flint lock gun. He was also instrumental in improving 
the hardness and quality of barrels, by introducing more steel into their 
manufacture. He also improved the pattern of the Harpoon Gun, and his was 
the one adopted for the Scottish Fisheries ; it is still to be found in use. But, 
undoubtedly, his greatest achievement in gunnery was the discovery of the 
expanding principle for muzzle-loading rifle bullets. The musket to which 
W. Greener adapted his bullet was eleven bore, and although the trial of his 
invention proved that the rifle could be loaded as easily as a smooth bore while 

X The Gun and its Development. 

still retaining its accuracy, no notice was taken of it by the Government, yet, 
in 1852, the Government awarded Minie (a Frenchman) ^{^10,000 for a bullet 
on the same principle as Greener's invention of 1836. The method used was 
that of a plug driven by the powder gas into the base of the bullet. Mr. 
Greener considered himself aggrieved by this, and the Government ultimately 
admitted the justice of his claim and gave him ;2^i,ooo in the Army Estimates 
of 1857. 

W. Greener did not confine himself to gunnery, and among his numerous 
inventions were Davy Lamps, a life-boat, self-righting by means of water ballast, 
and a mechanism by which four gates could be worked at once for level crossings. 
He also, in 1847, patented an electric light system. 

As a sporting gunmaker, W. Greener had now (1845-58) arrived at a very 
high position, proved by the fact that he was appointed to make guns for the 
Prince Consort, and at the 185 1 Exhibition he received a highest award "for 
guns and barrels perfectly forged and finished," and later, too, at the New York 
and Paris Exhibitions of 1853 and 1855 silver medals were awarded him. In 
the palmy days of the Southern States of America, before the War, very highly 
finished weapons were sent there, as much as ;!^75 being paid for a gun of 
W. Greener's make. It was with the money obtained by the supply of South 
Africa with two-groove rifles that Mr. Greener erected his factory at " Rifle Hill," 
Aston, in 1859, and the more prosperous time of the firm may be dated therefrom. 
Just before this W. Greener had published his last work, " Gunnery in 1858," 
which was written in the warlike spirit, as he challenged the statements of other 
authors very freely. Though he lived until 1869, he never took kindly to the breech- 
loaders, and died in the faith in which he had lived. His son differed from 
him in this respect, and struck out a line of his own in breech-loaders, producing 
in 1864 his first patent, an under-lever pin-fire half-cocker with a top bolt entering 
the barrels underneath the top rib. 

After the death of W. Greener the two businesses were amalgamated and 
carried on by W. W. Greener, whose next patent was the self-acting striker 
a method only superseded by the rebounding lock. This was not of so much 
importance as the patent that followed it, the famous cross bolt, produced as a 
single top bolt in 1865. In 1873 this was combined with the bottom holding 
down bohs to form the " Treble Wedge Fast," one of the strongest breech actions 
ever invented, and one that has become much used of late, wherever an extended 
rib is thought to be necessary. Even London makers are now employing it to 
withstand the heavy charges in rifles of Express character. 

Introduction. xi 

W. W. Greener having written five books,* of which two have reached a sixth 
edition, has emulated his father in authorship. His first efifort was the " Modern 
Breech-loaders," in 187 1. 

The introduction of choke boring may be regarded as W. W, Greener's 
greatest achievement: his previous inventions had shown his cleverness; this 
one made him famous throughout the world. Mechanism in a mechanical age 
like ours is not easy to grow famous upon. But choke boring, as brought out 
by Greener in 1874, altered the whole system of gun boring, and made close 
shooting the servant of the guri-maker, where before it had been his Will-o'- 

We are aware that Mr. Pape, of Newcastle, considers himself the inventor 
of choke boring, and has been awarded a Cup as such by a committee. We 
do not agree with that award. That his patent proves him to have had some idea 
in May, 1866, that he thought might be worth protecting, is a fact. But although 
he described the method in a patent having to do with mechanisms of the actions 
of breech-loader fastenings, he made no claim in the patent for the invention 
of the method of boring he describes. We believe that (whether he knew or 
did not know what was possible from choke boring) he did not work the principle 
foreshadowed in his patent, or if he did, he did not work it in the modern 
successful method. We are of this opinion, because we happen to know that 
when asked in '73 or '74 to do his best by way of pattern, he sent out a weapon 
that could not put 100 No. 6 shot in the 30-inch circle at 40 yards. And 
having regard to the extreme care with which" the cartridges sent to try the gun 
were loaded, we have every reason to believe that he was doing his best. Good 
shooting guns at that time were accidents to a great extent ; with such an 
accident Mr. Pape had won at a public trial with a pattern of less than 130. That 
is our opinion of the matter, and moreover, no English maker could guarantee 
any such pattern as 130 until Mr. Greener showed the way in 1874. We speak 
from the results of our own trials with the guns of many of them, including 
Mr. Pape's. The information we are able to give on this subject was more 
particularly derived from trials made of a number of guns from a large number of 
makers, sent by them for the purpose, when we formed one of the shooting party 
in Leicestershire in 1873 or 1874. The whole of the shooting at this trial was 

* Since the publication of Mr. Buckle's book, two more books have been written by the 
author and two of the earUer books have reached nine editions. They have been translated 
into the French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Japanese languages, and over 
80,000 volumes have been distributed in all parts of the world. 

xii The Gun and its Development. 

done by ourselves, and as some of the most fashionable London makers, and 
the most successful at that time at pigeon shooting, sent their guns, we became 
well aware of the state of barrel boring immediately prior to the introduction 
of the choke bore. Mr. Greener was one of the makers who sent guns to us 
on the particular occasion of which we speak. These were sent back to him, 
and as a result we probably saw the first choke bore he made. This was sent 
up to us in Scotland, in the autumn following the trials of which we speak, 
and the difference between its performance at the target and that of any of the 
guns previously tried was astonishing to all who saw it at that time. 

Choke boring has been more or less adopted by all gun-makers since that 
date, and it is for this reason that we say that Mr. Greener's reputation is based 
on the introduction of the invention. Mr. Greener makes no claim to be the 
inventor of choke boring; what he claims is that he improved an American 
invention to such an extent, that in 1874 and 1875 no one who had got hold 
of the American method had any chance of making such patterns as he could 
get out of his guns. 

This was clearly established at the 1875 gun trials, when Mr. Pape, who 
advertises himself as the inventor of the system, exhibited guns against Mr. Greener's 
winning weapons, but although he had then got choke bores of some kind, like all 
the other makers, which he had not the year before (if our Leicestershire trials 
were the test we believe them to have been), he could not, any more than they, 
get shooting from them that approached that of Mr. Greener's specimen guns 
of almost all the various bores. 





The missile weapons of the Ancients Stone-throwing Origin of the sHng-shot The 
sHng The ancient bow Long-bows FHght and sheaf arrows Arbalists Cross- 
bows BoUs and Quarrels The Paviser Feats of archers Bow v. Musket ... i 


Thunder-bolts " Eastern origin of the invention Wilkinson's t-heory Gunpowder and 
Mahomedan invasion Early use in Europe Roger Bacon Berthold Schwartz 
When first made in England A mediaeval account of its origin ... ... ... 13 


The first fire-arms Valturius's war-chariot Chaucer's mention of "gonne" Barbour's 
instances Early cannon Field Artillery Bombards " Mons Meg" Monster 
cannon Orgues des bombards Battering rams Classification of cannon Early 
mortars Breech-loading cannon Ship cannon Petards Miscellaneous early 
fire-arms ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 18 


Cannon as hand-guns The Petronel Hand-Culverin Its construction Early gunners 
and cross-bowmen Culverins Method of shooting with hand-cannon The 
match-lock ; its development The first match-locks The serpentin Opposition 
to the use of fire-arms The Harquebusiers Methods of using early guns Positions 
in Shooting Shutting one eye The wheel-lock The Monk's gun Mechanism of 
the German wheel-lock The flint-lock, snap-hammer or fire-lock Early sporting 
fire-arms German guns Italian arms Venetian rifle Early French arms 
Russian workmanship Early repeating arms Multi-barrelled cannon Three- 
barrelled wall-piece Repeating match-lock Early magazine fire-arms Italian 
magazine repeater Revolving guns "Henry VIII. 's arquebus" Double- 
chambered revolving-gun Russian rotating arms Three-barrelled revolver 
Double revolver-gun Collier's carbine Combined fire-arms The pistol-battle-axe 
Wheel-lock dagger-pistols Pistol pike Concealed arms Rob Roy's purse 
Pistol shields Whip pistols Curious and notable weapons Nock's seven- 
barrelled carbine German daggs Italian dagg Old Saxon pistols Duelling 

The Gun and its Development. 


pistols Highland pistol Double-pistols Double-pistol with one trigger Early 
double-barrelled guns Early breech-loaders Flint-lock breech-loader Italian 
side-motion mechanism Fergusson's mechanism The Theiss rifle Hall's 
American breech-loader Breech-loading wall-pieces... ... ... ... ... 44 



Historical note on fulminates Forsyth's invention Detonators and the copper cap 
Manton's "tube" gun Westley - Richards's detonating gun Detonators Col. 
Hawker's opinion of flint-locks and percussion ignition The percussion muzzle- 
loader Nock's patent breech Greener's double muzzle-loader The dangers of 
muzzle-loaders -Opinions on muzzle-loading jernigan on China and Chinese 
sportsmen The shooting of Whit worth's rifle Percussion breech-loaders 
Demondion's gun Gilbert-Smith's American rifle Norwegian carbine Abezz 
breech-loader The Calesher and Terry carbine The Westley- Richards capping 
breech-loader The Moiisqueton des Cent Gardes The percussion muzzle-loader and 
breech-loader compared ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... m 



History of the breech-loading system The pin-fire gun and the Lefaucheux breech- 
mechanism^The double-grip The sliding-barrel mechanism Dougall's lock-fast 
gun The turn-over mechanism Jeff'ries' side-motion mechanism Greener's self 
half-cocking gun Needham's snap action Side-lever mechanisms The central-fire 
system Needham's needle guns Lancaster's system of ignition Daw's gun and 
cartridge Advantages of the central-fire principle Top-lever breech-actions Locks 
and minor mechanisms Greener's " patent striker " Westley- Richards's breech 
action The "doll's head" gun Treble-grip mechanisms The Greener cross-bolt 
Greener's treble-wedge-fast gun Strength of breech-mechanisms The breaking 
strain of powders in gun actions The duplex or improved wedge-fast grip ... ... 131 



Historical note on the hammerless principle The semi-hammerless gun Lang's 
self-cocking gun Lefever American hammerless gun Hammerless guns cocked by 
the action-lever Dreyse's, Daw's, Green's, Murcott's, AUport's Hammerless guns 
cocked by the barrels Anson and Deeley's gun Necessity for a top connection 
on hammerless guns Principle involved Where the strain comes The Abbey 
bolt Greener's "Facile Princeps " gun Barrel-cocking mechanisms compared 
Hammerless guns cocked by the mainspring Purdey's, Walker's, Greener's Other 
methods ; Scott's, Hill's, Rogers's Advantages of hammerless guns The choice of 
a hammerless system .. . ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 158 



Note on the principle of the ejector The divided extractor Needham's system Perkes's 
first fore-end ejector Separate mechanisms for ejecting Deeley's, Trulock's, 
Baker's, Ross's, Maleham's, Harrison's, Perkes's, Holland's, Southgate's, Grant's, 

Contents. xv 


Greener's self-acting A third principle Greener's " Unique" ejecting mechanism 
Ejecting mechanisms compared Advantage of the ejector Safeties and safety 
bolts Good and faulty bents Trigger-bolting safeties Butt safety-bolt Inter- 
cepting safety-bolts Greener's automatic locking mechanism 184 



The history of the fire-arms industry Specimens of early work Gun-making in bygone 
days Gun-makers of the past Nicolas Bis, Bossi, Jacquinet, Vittelli, Comminazo, 
Page of Norwich, Nock, Joe Manton, Ezekiel Baker, W. Greener .. ... ... 211 



Manufacture of iron for gun barrels Barrel welding Varieties of twist gun barrels 
Damascus and laminated steel Foreign twist barrels Varieties and qualities of 
forged barrels Weldless barrels " Greys " Greener's solid weldless twist barrel 
Steel barrels ; Whitworth's, Greener's Burst in wrought-steel barrel Other 
metals used in gun manufacture Gun-making processes ; boring, straightening, and 
grinding barrels The cartridge chamber Shooting ; gun-makers' ranges Testing 
the shooting Fine boring and choking Historical note on choke-boring 
Roper's detachable choke J. W. Long on choke-boring Author's first know- 
ledge of choke-boring Teasdale Buckle's opinion of the choke Various 
styles of old boring The cylinder barrel -The varieties of the choke-bore How 
the choke is formed Lapping or lead-polishing Barrel filing Breech-action 
making Lock-making Pieces of the gun-lock Gun-stocks and gun-stocking 
Greener's unbreakable stock Screwing and finishing Percussioning^ Polishing 
and case hardening Engraving and the ornamentation of guns True value of 
decoration Barrel browning Browning mixtures Black-browns Miscellaneous 
mountings The use of machinery in gun-making Machine-made sporting guns ... 229 



History of gun-barrel proving ^The early charters of the London Gunmakers' Company 
The Birmingham Proof House Rules and regulations and scales applicable to 
the proof of small arms Classification of arms Rule of proof Conditions 
precedent to proof Marks of proof Proof scales for rifled small arms, breech- 
loading shot-guns, other varieties Supplementary proofs Proof scale for rifled 
choke-bores Mode of proving The work of an English proof house Foreign 
proof houses Foreign proof marks ... ... ... ... ... ... .. 288 



Classification of tests Crusher gauge Borland's " dead-weight " gauge Borland's cap 
tester Chronographs Penetration tests ; Pettitt pads, copper sheet and water tests, 
card rack and penetration tester The "Field" force gauge " Stonehenge's " 
machine rest ' ' Field ' ' recoil-registering machine rest Conversion of measurements 
Value of footpounds and tons pressure ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 310 

xvi The Gun and its Development. 



The gun trials of 1858 and 1859 Muzzle-loaders against breech-loaders Statement by 
J. H. Walsh (" Stonehenge") Value of Walsh's work The gun trial of 1866 
The great gun trial of 1875 Choke-bores against cylinders Victory of the 
chokes W. W. Greener winner of the Field cup Tests of English bored or 
cylinder guns The " wear-and-tear " trial Choke-bores against cylinders at 
Pigeons, 1876 and 1877 The " Purdey " cup won by a " Greener " gun The trial 
of explosives, 1878 Experiments at long ranges The London Field trials of 
1879 The winning "Greener" gun's record The Chicago Field trial of 1879 
Table showing comparative results obtained at all public trials ... ... ... 326 



The flight of a charge of shot Pattern Stringing Illustrative diagrams of chokes in 
cylinders Distribution of the pattern Stringing and velocity Variations in 
velocity Tendency is towards higher muzzle-velocities Actual velocities at 
different ranges Patterns of closest shooting guns Of a Greener gun with 
Schultze Of the Greener gun which won the Leavenworth gun trial Killing 
circles and killing range Value of close pattern ... ... ... ... ... 351 



Calibre of shot-guns The small-bore game gun, and what it will do The 20-bore ; the 
i6-bore The standard calibre game gun Miniature 12-bore guns The 
sportswoman's gun The pigeon or '' trap " gun Uniformity in shot Testing at the 
target Extra long cartridges for pigeon shooting Shooting powers of the 12-bore 
with different loads The 12-bore game gun Facsimile patterns Guns of reduced 
calibre The " Vena Contractu " Guns of odd sizes^Single-barrelled guns Buck- 
shot guns Shot-guns as ball-guns Mead shells ; Macleod's rotating bullet 
Spherical ball in choke-bores And in cylinders Large bores Wild-fowling guns 
Facsimile pattern made with a Greener 4-bore Nitre-explosives in large-bore 
guns Killing range of large calibres Loading recommended Breech-mechanisms 
for wild-fowling guns Duck guns Greener's hammerless far-killing duck gun 
Diagram made with a lo-bore The 12-bore as a wild-fowling gun Punt guns ... 374 



Seme remarks on the cost of guns Cheap guns and their recognition " Export " guns 
The spurious gun, and its detection On the fit of guns On alignment To choose 
a gun which will fit correctly Try-guns Shape and dimensions of gun-stocks 
Balance Bend, length, weight, cast off Pistol hands and scroll guards The 
" rational " gun-stock Cheek-pieces Stocks for left shoulder The Monopeian gun 
Varieties of gun-ribs How to buy a gun The gun that will suit How to order 
a gun correctly ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 407 

Contents. xvii 



On putting guns together Directions Cleaning guns On stripping, repairing, and 
preserving guns Thie gun room How to use the gun Preparatory drill Handling 
the gun in the field Safe positions : carrying, waiting, loading Correct positions : 
standing, shooting How to take an over-head shot The art of wing shooting 
Holding ahead Holding on Aiming Bad positions Continental style Conduct 
in the field Some points of etiquette The common-sense use of the gun Hints 
on shooting ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 434 



The history of pigeon shooting The Hornsey Wood Ground The "Old Hats" The 
Gun Club Pigeons and appliances for pigeon shooting Blue Rocks ; 
Antwerps Hurlingham Club rules The Gun Club rules Handicapping rules 
Modifications of English rules The Monaco boundary Hints on trap shooting 
Live birds and small loads Highest record scores Winners of the Grand Prix 
Inanimate bird and trap shooting Traps and targets Rules of the Inanimate 
Bird Shooting Association The best records ... ... ... ... ... ... 469 



Early single-trigger mechanisms Greener's first double gun with single trigger Single- 
trigger trial Boss' single-trigger gun The Jones-Baker system Fulford's single- 
trigger Lancaster's single-trigger mechanism Greener's single-trigger. Lard's 
patent Advantages of the single trigger .. . ... ... ... ... ... ... ^gz 



Repeating shot-guns The Spencer, the Winchester, the Burgess The Lancaster four- 
barrelled gun Multi-barrelled guns The three-barrelled rifle and shot-gun 
Under-and-over guns Walsh's side-action P.F. gun The Bacon breech-loader 
Fixed barrel mechanisms The " Gye " gun The Giffard gas gun Electric guns 
and cartridges Miscellaneous inventions Grooved and perforated barrels 
" Wildfowler's " Elliptical bore Reversely-sighted Enfield Push-down triggers 
Harpoon guns Whale lances Walking-stick guns and saloon rifles Air canes 
Alarm guns Greener's " Humane " cattle killer Silencers Line-throwing guns 
The Unge Aerial Torpedo .. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 503 



The revolver Colt's inventions and improvements Tranter's double-action The Royal 
Irish Constabulary pattern Target revolvers The Smith and Wesson hamraerless 
revolver Mechanism of a double-action revolver Breech-loading non-revolving 

The Gun and its Development. 


pistols The Derringer Horse pistols Mitrailleuse pistols Magazine pistols^ 
Automatic repeaters Qualities sought in pistols Varieties of the modern 
revolver Mr. Winans's record scores Warrant Officer Raven's score The 
shooting qualities of pistols and revolvers ... .. ... ... ... ... 524 



Classification of explosives Nitro-compounds : their varieties Chemical formulae 
Nitroglycerine, dynamite, gun-cotton Composition of modern high-explosives 
Fulminates Cap compositions Black gunpowder : its varieties and manufacture 
Some properties of explosives Strength of explosives ... ... ... ... ... 540 



Definitions Ballistic action of an explosion Formulae lor converting "work " into foot- 
pounds Classes of explosion Wav^e pressure ; its effect Some examples and 
deductions Express rifle burst with fine-grain powder Relative strength of 
explosives Excessive pressures with nitro-compounds Bursts with concentrated 
powders Excessive charges of nitro-compounds Fouling, erosion The bursting 
strain of gun-barrels Recoil, jump and flip How shot emerges from a sporting gun 565 



Note on the history of cartridges The Lefaucheux pin-fire cartridge The central-fire 
cartridge : its varieties Pottet's, Eley's, Daw's, Bailey's, and the " Life" cartridge 
cases Manufacture of cartridge cases Of percussion caps Of bullets Loading 
rifle cartridge cases Wadding Method of charging shot cartridges The Greener 
shot counter Reloading cartridges How to load a gun Number of pellets in 
various loads Concentrators Scatter charges Shrapnel shells Ignition : the 
time required Flash-holes in cartridge cases Shot, its varieties and manufacture 
Standard sizes : English, American, Continental Gun cases Gun cabinets 
Implements Gun slings Bags Hand guards Impedimenta 589 



Definition of rifling Invention of rifling Forms of grooving Early use of the rifle The 
muzzle-loading fire-arms of the British army The story of the bayonet " Crossed 
bayonets" The development of the muzzle-loading rifle The Minie rifle against 
the percussion musket Lancaster's oval bore The Whit worth rifling The 
Whitworth against the Enfield Historical note on the sporting rifle The spherical 
ball rifle Origin of the "Express" The Cape rifle The breech-loading rifle 
and its development The Metford system Classification of modern rifles ... 620 

Contents. xix 



Classification of sporting rifles Large-bore rifles Long-range sporting rifles Weights 
of rifles Varieties of the " Express " rifle "Long-range expresses" Col. 
Patterson on lion-hunting Breech-mechanism for sporting rifles Under-and- 
over rifles Best forms of grooving Sights Cartridges Hollow bullets Special 
properties Lord Keane's expanding bullet Explosive shells Steel-pointed bullet 
Experiments with explosive shells Explosive compound for shells Rook and 
rabbit rifles Accuracy and range of small-bore rifles Rifled shot-guns and choke- 
bored rifles Rifle and shot-guns American pocket rifles The Morris tube :.. 642 



Trajectories Definitions ; sectional density, ballistic co-efficient, drift and vertical drift 
Zero and angles of elevation Bullets and special projectiles The Hebler Krnka 
tubular bullet The London Field rifle trial of 1883 Best diagrams and 
trajectories Table of trajectories of sporting rifles Velocity, penetration, and 
trajectory of American loads Comparative trajectories of the Martini-Henry and 
the Lee-Metford Accuracy and range of sporting rifles Velocity and penetration 
Striking force On the choice of a sporting rifle The sporting range for game 
shooting ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 677 



Historical note on military breech-loaders The Snider and Snider Enfield The Martini- 
Henry The Prussian needle-gun The French Chassepot Miscellaneous breech- 
mechanisms The Braendlin-Albini The original Mauser Roberts's rifle The 
Russian Berdan The Austrian Werndl The Peabody Early American systems ; 
Sharp's, Remington's, Maynard's Some English systems ; Henry's, Field's, 
Westley-Richards's, Soper's ... ... ... ... ... ... 701 



Note on magazine arms Repeating or magazine rifles The Spencer The Henry The 
Winchester The Colt The Marlin The Schneider American bolt-action 
mechanisms The Schulhof repeater The Needham 716 



Historical note on the small-bore Bolt-action systems The Vetterli The Lebel The 
Mauser The original Mannlicher The Lee-Speed-Metford Minor mechanical 
details Ballistics of military rifles Modern military rifles compared Specification 

The Gun and its Development. 



of service weapons and their powers Other military magazine rifles : the 
Berthier, the Marga Automatic repeating rifles Griffiths and Woodgate's- 
Mannlicher's Colt's... 



Classification of target rifles, Historical note on target shooting The Swiss rifleman 
First Meeting of the National Rifle Association Successful weapons at subsequent 
meetings Record scores Diagrams of best targets Winners of the Queen's Prize, 
1860-1900, and the King's Prize, 1901-9 Modern American target rifles Con- 
tinental match rifles Military match rifles "Any" rifles Positions for target 
shooting Some hints on shooting Aiming The "Rifle Club movement" 
Morris tubes Miniature rifles Air-guns Sights Rifle shooting as a sport ... 745 

Index ,. ... ... ... ... ... - ... ... .. ... ... 783 




Weapons which would kill at a distance were possessed by man in the prehistoric 
age ; but what those arms were the archaeologist and ethnologist must decide. For 
the purpose of this treatise it is of small moment whether primitive man was better 
armed than the modern Ainu or the African pigmy. It is probable that the races 
of men coeval with the mastodon and the cave-bear were better armed than is 
generally supposed ; the much-despised Australian aborigine, notwithstanding his 
lack of intelligence, is the inventor of two weapons the boomerang and the 
throwing-stick for hurling spears which races much higher in the scale of humanity 
could not improve upon. So other weapons, as the sling and the bow, appear to 
have long preceded civilisation, and their use has been traced to times of remotest 
antiquity. The throwing of sticks and stones was doubtless the readiest method by 
which the aggressor could effect a result at a distance. Even monkeys will pelt their 
assailants with nuts ; and the throwing of stones in the primitive fashion was one 
method of fighting generally practised throughout all ages. It was indulged in by 
the French and English even so recently as the battle of Alexandria (1801). 

It was as an instrument of the chase that the weapon which would kill at a 
distance was developed ; it may be that a flint used for some domestic purpose, 
and found handy because it was the particular flint most often used, led to the 
securing of that one flint to the wrist or waist by a thong ; thus could the chosen 
weapon be recovered, and quickly used time after time until the prey was taken or 
the foe vanquished. This weapon, flint-and-thong, is the first form of the sling- 
shot, an arm still favoured by the Scotch Highlanders ; from it too, probably, the 
sling was developed. Possibly accident caused to be noticed the increased power 
of the sling-hurled missile over that of the flint thrown by unaided arm. The use 
of the sling is, or has been, almost universal. Its invention by the Phoenicians or 
Acarnanians, or the ^tolians, is clearly as mythical as the legend relating to Apollo 
and the production of the bow. The Achaians and Balerians were extremely 


2 The Gun and its Development. 

expert in the use of the sling, and even prior to the Christian era made use of lead 

missiles. The sling was used for many centuries as a weapon of war ; it still exists 

as a savage weapon ; but its last appearance for military purposes in Europe was at 

t^' l*" the siege of Sancerre in 1572. 

'"^ The bow, although possibly a later invention than the sling, can be traced to the 

earliest times in the annals of every country. It was held in high repute as a 

/ weapon of war, but was pre-eminent as a hunting weapon ; by striking down the 

most renowned as well as the most insignificant of warriors its use was deprecated 

men of heroic character. 

The ancient method of warfare among the most civilised of nations was inferior 
to that now practised by the most untutored of savages. The two armies if a few 
fighting men and a rabble on each side may be so termed were usually encamped 
within a half-mile or so of each other. In the space between the camps single 
combats took place. The heroes of either side would advance and challenge the 
other side ; thus Goliath before the Jews : Goliath having found his David, and 
fallen, the Philistines ran away. So in the Trojan war Hector could only be fought 
by Achilles or some " hero " of equal rank. 

The bows and the other engines of war were not available at a greater distance 
than about four hundred yards, and in the heroic age it may be assumed that it 
was contrary to the usage of war to fire arrows at champions when engaged in 
mortal combat. This rule was sometimes broken, as the readers of the " Iliad " will 
remember ; the exploits of the archer Pandarus being there referred to in flattering 

The method of war changed when Alexander marched his phalanx successfully 
against every army in the civilised world. The fiercest champion was powerless 
against the compact body of men acting as one machine ; the tricks of the savage 
ambush, stealth, surprise, treachery were more successful. Then the bow and the 
sling, the weapons of the hunter and the herdsman, were requisitioned for military 
purposes. It was sought by their use to destroy the solidity of the phalanx. 
Terror played an important part in all war manoeuvres ; the array of elephants 
before the Carthaginian phalanx, the strange engines of war, were designed ta 
dismay the enemy ; so the archers and slingers, but more particularly the archers,^ 
struck terror alike into the hearts of mounted warriors and foot soldiers. They 
were particularly successful in disorganising the cavalry ; for the horses, wounded 
with the barbed darts and driven mad as the shafts changed position with each 
movement, became uncontrollable. 

The weapon which would kill at a distance has always been the weapon of the 

Early Arms. 3 

hunter ; the Roman warrior, with his bossed shield and short sword, was unconquer- 
able in hand-to-hand conflict ; and in the Roman wars with Gauls, Helvetians, and 
Britons the bow played no part ; the untrained barbarians met their foe in battle 
array, and were routed. The Greeks were not a hunting race, and they learned the 
use of the bow from the Scythians, who were hunters one and all ; so the ancient 
Norsemen, although they made frequent use of the bow, and thought highly of it as 
an instrument of the chase, rarely employed it in war. The Anglo-Saxons, in like 
manner, regarded the bow as of little use in war. 

The first bow is supposed to have been made by thinning down the horns of 
/ the ox and joining them at their base. This gives almost the correct form of the 

Saxon Bowmen. 

classical bow. The bow of Pandarus is said to have been made of the horns of the 
wild goat ; the Grecian bows, originally of horn, were later made of wood ; the 
strings were of horse-hair or hides cut into narrow thongs. The arrows were of 
light wood or were reeds tipped with barbed points. The bows of the northern 
nations were longer and were of wood, and when unstrung were almost straight ; it 
is from them that the English long-bow was developed. 

The illustration shows the shape of the Saxon bow ; it is from the Cotton MS., 

4 The Gun and its Development. 

and represents two sportsmen of the eighth century. In the Saxon Chronicles there 
is Httle relating to archery. That Harold, William II., and Richard I. were 
killed by arrows is every-day history; but it was not until the middle of the 
fourteenth century that the English bow attained its reputation. It would appear 
that the bandits and outlaws of Britain living, as they did, by the chase knew 
well the power of the bow ; when the King's forces were sent against them they 
used their bows to such advantage that it was deemed advisable to employ archers 
in the war in France. Cregy, Poictiers, and Agincourt were won by the long-bow ; 
and almost by the bowmen alone. The bow likewise played the most prominent 
part at the battle of Homildon Hill, and at Shrewsbury. Long after the use of 
fire-arms for military purposes it was retained by the English as the chief weapon of 
war. As much as could be done by legislation was done to encourage its use. 
The learned Roger Ascham was commissioned to " write up " the sport of archery ; 
later Sir John Smith advocated the use of the bow in preference to the hand-gun, 
but although it lingered beyond the Tudor period it was in only a half-hearted 
fashion, and the bands of archers raised to defend the King in 1643 appear to 
have done very little. 

/ The feats of the bowmen have been greatly exaggerated, but there can be 
llittle doubt that a skilled archer was a formidable antagonist. The arrows, made 
with square heads, would pierce armour quite as well as a musket-ball. Possibly 
the account of Pandarus's prowess is not exaggerated ; at any rate, there are well 
authenticated records of feats as surprising as that of the effect of his arrow upon 

" It struck 
Just where the golden clasps the belt restrained, 
And where the breastplate, doubled, checked its force. 
On the close-fitting belt the arrow struck ; 
Right through the belt of curious workmanship 
It drove, and through the breastplate richly wrought, 
And through the coat of mail he wore beneath 
His inmost guard, and best defence to check 
The hostile weapon's force : yet onward still 
The arrow drove." //. iv. 119. 

Giraldus Cambrensis states that pome archers belonging to the Ventna, a 
warlike Welsh tribe, shot clean throu^ an oak door, behind which some soldiers 
had concealed themselves, the door being no less than four fingers in thickness^ A 
party of 100 archers shot before King Edward VI., at doubtless considerably over 
220 yards (the recognised minimum range), and pierced an oak plank one inch 

Early Arms. 

in thickness, several of the arrows passing right through the plank and sticking into 
the butts at the back. The renowned Douglas found that armour was no pro- 
tection ; his first suit of mail, of splendid temper, was pierced in five places at one 
battle fought in 1402, The North American Indian has been known to drive an 
arrow right through a buffalo. ;X /, 2.<i- 

With reference to the range of the bow, the measured mile of Robin Hood and 
Little John, known by honoured tradition, is as fabulous as the wondrous shooting 
recounted by Firdusi, the Persian poet, of the heroic Arish, whose arrow sped over 
five hundred miles. The longest well-authenticated distance for shooting with 
flight-arrows is about 600 yards, and at 400 yards hazel-rods were frequently cleft 
by experts. 'Modern archers ^ 
have in a few instances shot 
their arrows over 400 yards. 
The Turkish Ambassador shot 
an arrow, from a short Eastern 
bow of horn, 480 yards at one 
of the early meetings of the 
Toxophilite Society. By a 
statute of Henry VIH. it was 
forbidden that any man over 
twenty-four years of age should 
shoot at a mark nearer than 
220 yards with a flight-arrow or 
140 yards with a sheaf-arrow. 

As to the method of shoot- 
ing, the Persians drew the bow- 
string to the right ear by means 
of the thumb, on which not in- 
frequently a ring was worn to 
strengthen the grip ; the ancient 
Greeks drew the bow-string to 
the right breast ; the English 
drew to the ear, gripping the 
arrow and pulling on the string 
with the fingers. 

Under Edward IV. every 
Englishman was required to 

Henry VIII., in Archer's Costume, shooting at the Field 
of the Cloth of Gold. 

6 The Gun and its Development. 

have a bow of his own height, made of yew, wych, hazel, or ash, according to his 
strength. The arrows were required to be of the length of a man's arm or half 
the length of the bow. Practice was enjoined under certain penalties. In the reign 
of Henry VII. the use of other bows than the long-bow was forbidden ; in the next 
reign a fine of;^iowas ordered to be paid by whomsoever might be found to 
possess a cross-bow; and during the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles I. the 
Legislature repeatedly interfered to protect archery. 

Contemporary with the English bow was the Continental cross-bow or arbalist, 
a weapon developed from the most ancient engines of war known as catapultse. 

Balista and Catapulta of the Greeks. 

Though its invention has been attributed to the Normans, others state that it was 
invented by the Cretans and introduced into Europe after the first Crusade. In all 
probability it was a modification of well-known engines of war used in besieging 
and defending fortified towns. These engines were often of huge proportions; one 
used by the fifteenth legion against Vespasian at the battle of Cremona, according 
to Tacitus, discharged stones large enough to crush whole ranks at once. The first 
mention of such machines is in 2 Chronicles (xxvi. 15), where it is stated that 
Uzziah " made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be upon the 
towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones." Josephus states 
that the Jews shot the corpses of men and horses from these machines a common 
practice of the Carthaginians, who thought thus to strike terror into their assailants. 
The catapultae were sometimes made to shoot at once a whole sheaf of arrows or a 
number of javelins ; the balistce were used to throw stones chiefly. 

Early Arms. 7 

The cross-bow was looked upon as a most cruel and barbarous weapon, and 
Pope Innocent III. forbade its use among Christian nations, but sanctioned it in 
fighting against infidels, Richard I. introduced the cross-bow into the English 
army against the wish of the Pope ; and, he being killed a few years later by a shot 

Cross-bows and Quarrels or Bolts. 

from one whilst besieging the castle of Chaluz, his death was considered as a 
judgment from Heaven inflicted on him for his impious conduct. 

The cross-bow continued to be much used by the British; the cross- bowmen 
were second only to the long-bowmen in the expedition fitted out against the 
Scots by Edward II. In 1572 Queen Elizabeth engaged to find a number of 

8 The Gun and its Development. 

cross-bowmen to aid Charles IX., and it is said that in 1627 some of the English 
in the attack upon the tie de Re were armed with cross-bows. 

The cross-bows were of several varieties ; in the illustration on page 7, the shorter, 
called the goat-foot, was the type more generally used for military purposes. 

The bow is of steel, and the string is pulled by a hooked rod with a ratchet 
edge. The ratchet is wound up by means of the lever and cogs until the string is 
pulled over a movable nut or button fixed to the stock. By depressing the lever 
underneath the button is brought to the level of the stock, and, the string slipping 
over it, the bow is released. 

In some cases a windlass with ropes and pulleys was used ; it was fixed to the 
stock of the cross-bow after each discharge, but at the time of shooting or marching 
it was removed, and hung from the soldier's girdle. This type is shown in the illus- 
tration of bow-men of the fifteenth century from Froissart. Others were cocked 
by means of a lever, and some had a pulley fastened in the stock, with a rope 
passing over it, to which a stirrup was attached. 

To bend this bow, its head was rested on the ground, the foot inserted in the 
stirrup and depressed. 

Others were light enough to be set by hand ; the one which belonged to 
Catherine de Medicis is still preserved in the Muse'e des Invalides, Paris, and is a 
light ornamental weapon, discharged by a lever trigger which, when pressed 
towards the stock, lowers the nut or hook clutching the bow-string. 

The smaller cross-bow,, used chiefly for sporting purposes, was called the prodd ; 
with some such, weapon -Margaret of Anjou shot deer in Northumberland, and this 
type was employed by Queen Elizabeth at Cowday. 

The bows of the lighter cross-bows were of wood, of wood and horn, or of 
combined materials. An early Spanish cross-bow was recently examined, to 
ascertain the material of which the bow was composed. It was found to be 
mainly of yew, backed with whalebone, the two bound together with sinews, and 
the whole embedded in a glutinous composition and varnished. 

In addition to bolts and quarrels, the cross-bow fired long arrows, occasionally 
" fire-an'ows," and not infrequently was specially designed to propel pellets, or 
stones. The long-bow has also been adapted to the same purpose, for pellet-bows 
are still not uncommon in the East Indies. 

A small cross-bow intended to be concealed about the person, and used as a 
secret weapon, is preserved in the Birmingham Museum ; and the collection of the 
United Service Institution, London, includes a specimen of a repeating cross-bow 
this last a modern Cingalese production. 


^L ^^VS 

- %f^''''J^ 



W 1^^ 


j^gf , "^aK 



m^^^^K^^^^m '^^'^ ^ 


I A jA| ^~^jJHH|u^ 

|M|pijitl3^ ^^^^My ^^^''^^^'^H^^a^fl^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H 


Cross- bowmen ol tlie Fifteenth Century. (^/?fr Froissart.) 

The Gun and its Development. 

The arbalist or cross-bow was a clumsy weapon ; it fired a variety of missiles, 
mostly of the type termed quarreaux that is, square bolts, later known as quarrels. 
These, by reason of their barbed heads and their great weight, caused dangerous 
wounds ; they pierced armour, and not infrequently they were poisoned. An 
ordinary wound was not easily cured, owing to the clumsy surgery of those days ; 

some of the remedies proposed, and used, must 
have been worse even than the wounds. The 
point-blank range of the military cross-bow was 
about sixty yards, but, if elevated, some were 
available at more than double that distance. 

The cross-bowman was sometimes mounted ;. 

the long-bow was quite unsuited for use on 

horseback ; hence perhaps the persistence in the 

use of the short classical bow by Eastern nations. 

Neither the long-bow nor the cross-bow 

constituted the complete armament of the 

soldier. The long-bowman carried a mace or 

mallet with which to kill those whom he had 

disabled with his arrows ; sometimes he was 

furnished with a pike, which, stuck into the 

earth in a slanting direction, afforded some 

slight protection from a cavalry charge. He, 

like the cross-bowman, was sometimes attended 

by zpaviser that is, a page or varlet who bore 

a huge shield, behind which he and his master 

could shelter from the arrows of the enemy. 

In the illustration the cross-bowman is taken. 

from the " Chronique d'Engleterre," and the 

paviser from a copy of the " Romaun de la 


The cross-bowmen usually carried a sword, and it is not to be supposed that 

they and other archers were the only wariiors who sought the shelter and aid 

of the paviser : even the knights not infrequently put that bulwark as one more 

thickness of iron between themselves and the missiles they so much dreaded. 

The methods of warfare were not greatly changed by the bow ; the knights 
still fought the single combat when they could, and the ordinary rank and file- 
of an army did not count for very much. It is recorded that Richard I., witk 

English Long-bowman. 

Cross-bowman and his Paviser. 

12 The Gun and its Development. 

seventeen knights and three hundred archers, once sustained the charge of the 
whole of the combined Turkish and Saracen army, some thousands strong. It 
is also recorded that four English archers landed near a besieged town on the 
French coast, changed the fortunes of battle, and brought about the rout of the 
French army. But if the bow was bad, the hand-gun was much worse. Henry 
VIII., who was erratic in legislation, granted a charter to the Guild of St, George 
in 1537 authorising its members to practise with every kind of artillery^ bows, 
cross-bows, and hand-guns alike almost the same year that he forbade guns 
entirely, and made the possession of a cross-bow a finable offence. In the reign 
of Queen Elizabeth Sir John Smith, a general of much experience, stated that the 
bow was the superior of the hand-gun, and although he was taken up sharply by 
Mr. W. Barwick, Gent, he stuck to his contention. " I will never doubt to 
adventure my life," he writes, " or many lives (if I had them), amongst 8,000 
archers, complete, well chosen and appointed, and therewithal provided 
and furnished with great store of sheaves of arrows, as also a good overplus of 
bows and bow-strings, against 20,000 of the best harquebusiers and musketeers 
there are in Christendom." 

Several trials between the gun and the bow are on record, the results generally 
showing military advantages to the latter. A reliable match decided at Pacton 
Green, Cumberland, in August, 1792, resulted in a grand victory for the bow. 
The distance was 100 yards, the bow placing sixteen arrows out of twenty into 
the target, and the ordinary musket twelve balls only. A similar match took place 
the same year with very similar results. 

Perceiving such results as these so late as the eighteenth century, it is not sur- 
prising that in its earlier days the gun proved an inferior weapon to the bow in the 
hands of a good archer. 

There is no record of the muskets used at the trials above quoted, but in all 
probability the " Brown Bess " would be the one chosen, it being the standard 
military arm at that period. 

The Invention of Gunpowder. 13 



There seems little doubt that the composition of gunpowder has been known in 
the East from times of dimmest antiquity. The Chinese and Hindus contemporary 
with Moses are thought to have known of even the more recondite properties of the 
compound. The Gentoo code, which, if not as old as was first declared, was 
certainly compiled long before the Christian era, contains the following passage : 

" The magistrate shall not make war with any deceitful machine, or with poisoned weapons, 
or with cannons or guns, or any kind of fire-arms, nor shall he slay in war any person born an 
eunuch, nor any person who, putting his arms together, supplicates for quarter, nor any person 
who has no means of escape." 

f Gunpowder has been known in India and China far beyond all periods of 
investigation ; and if this account be considered true, it is very possible that 
Alexander the Great did absolutely meet with fire-weapons in India, which a 
passage in Quintus Curtius seems to indicate. There are many ancient Indian and 
Chinese words signifying weapons of fire, heaven's-thunder, devouring-fire, ball 
containing terrestrial fire, and such-like expressions. 

Dutens in his work gives a most remarkable quotation from the life of 
Apollonius Tyanseus, written by Philostratus, which, if true, proves that 
Alexander's conquests in India were arrested by the use of gunpowder. This 
oft-cited paragraph is deserving of further repetition : 

' ' These truly wise men (the Oxydracae) dwell between the rivers of Hyphasis and Ganges. 
Their country Alexander never entered, deterred not by fear of the inhabitants, but, as I 
suppose, by religious motives, for had he passed the Hyphasis he might doubtless have made 
himself master of all the country round them ; but their cities he never could have taken, 
though he had led a thousand as brave as Achilles, or three thousand such as Ajax, to the 
assault ; for they come not out to the field to fight those who attack them, but these holy men, 
beloved of the gods, overthrew their enemies with tempests and thunderbolts shot from their 
walls. It is said that the Egyptian Hercules and Bacchus, when they invaded India, invaded 
this people also, and, having prepared warlike engines, attempted to conquer them ; they in the 
meantime made no show of resistance, appearing perfectly quiet and secure, but upon the 
enemy's near approach they were repulsed with storms of lightning and thunderbolts hurled 
upon them from above." 

14 The Gun and its Development. 

Although Philostratus is not considered the most veracious of ancient authors 
other evidence corroborates the truth of this account, and it is now generally 
acknowledged that the ancient Hindoos possessed a knowledge of gunpowder- 
making. They made great use of explosives, including gunpowder, in pyrotechnical 
displays, and it is not improbable that they may have discovered (perhaps 
accidentally) the most recondite of its properties, that of projecting heavy bodies, 
and practically applied the discovery by inventing and using cannon. The most 
ingenious theory respecting the invention of gunpowder is that of the late Henry 
Wilkinson : 

" It has always appeared to me highly probable that the first discovery of gunpowder might 
originate from the primaeval method of cooking food by means of wood fires on a soil strongly 
impregnated with nitre, as it is in many parts of India and China. It is certain that from the 
moment when the aborigines of these countries ceased to devour their food in a crude state, 
recourse must have been had to such means of preparing it ; and when the fires became 
extinguished some portions of the wood partially converted into charcoal would remain, thus 
accidentally bringing into contact two of the principal and most active ingredients of this 
composition under such circumstances as could hardly fail to produce some slight deflagration 

whenever fires were rekindled on the same spot It is certain that such a combination 

of favourable circumstances might lead to the discovery, although the period of its application 
to any useful purpose may be very remote from that of its origin." 

The introduction of explosives into Europe followed the Mahomedan invasion. 
Greek fire, into the composition of which nitre and sulphur entered, was used prior 
to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. In 275 a.d. Julius Africanus mentions 
"shooting powder." Gunpowder, or some mixture closely resembling it, was used at 
the siege of Constantinople in 668. The Arabs or Saracens are reputed to have 
used it at the siege of Mecca in 690 ; some writers even affirm that it was known to 
Mahomet. Marcus Graecus described in " Liber ignium " an explosive composed 
of six parts saltpetre and two parts each of charcoal and sulphur. The MS. copy 
of this author in the National Library at Paris is said to be of much later date 
than 846, inscribed upon it ; the recipe given is nearly akin to the formula still 
employed for mixing the ingredients of gunpowder. 

Other early uses of gunpowder recorded are: by the Saracens at Thessalonica in 
904; by Salomon, King of Hungary, at the siege of Belgrade, 1073; in a sea conflict 
between the Greeks and Pisanians the former had fire-tubes fixed at the prows of 
their boats (1098), and in 1147 the Arabs used fire-arms against the Iberians. In 
1 2 18 there was artillery at Toulouse. In the Escurial collection there is a treatise 
on gunpowder, written, it is supposed, in 1249, and it is from this treatise that 
Roger Bacon is presumed to have obtained his knowledge of gunpowder; he died 

The Invention of Gunpowder. 


in 1292, and the description is contained in a posthumous work, '* De nuUitate, 
etc.," which was probably written in 1269. 

Berthold Schwartz, a monlc of Friburg, in Germany, studied the writings of 
Bacon regarding explosives, and manufactured gunpowder whilst experimenting. 
He has commonly been credited as the inventor, and at any rate the honour is due 
to him for making known some properties of gunpowder; its adoption in Central 

Schwartz Experimenting. 

Europe quickly followed his announcement, which is supposed to have taken place 
about 1320. It is probable that gunpowder was well known in Spain and Greece 
many years prior to its being used in Central and Northern Europe. 

In England gunpowder does not appear to have been made or bought until the 
fourteenth century. The ingredients were usually separately purchased and mixed 
when required. Mr. OUiver, of Boklersberry, appears to have been one of the first 
dealers in explosives ; for many years after the use of gunpowder had become 
general in war the quantities required were purchased abroad, and royal presents to 
the reigning sovereigns of England often included a barrel or more of gunpowder. 

Gunpowder-making at the End of the Fourteenth Century. (From a Contemporary German MS. J 

The Invention of Gunpoivder, 17 

Its manufacture in England, as an industry, dates back to the reign of Elizabeth, 
when mills were first established in Kent, and the monopoly conferred upon the 
Evelyn family. 

As to what was known of the origin of gunpowder by authorities living prior 
to the Commonwealth, the following extract from Robert Norton's " Gunner," pub- 
lished in 1628, shows exactly : 

" I hold it needeful for compiling of the whole worke as compleate as I can, to declare by 
whom and how this so dieullish an invention was first brought to light. Vffano reporteth, that 
the invention and vse as well of Ordnances as of Gunnepowder, was in the 85 yeere of our 
Lord, made knowe and practized in the great and ingenious Kingdom of China, and that in the 
Maratym Provinces thereof, there yet remaine certaine Peeces of Ordnance, both of Iron and 
Brasse, with the memory of their yeeres of Foundings ingraued upon them, and the Arms of 
King Vitey, who, he saith, was their inventor. And it well appearethe also in ancient and 
credible Historyes that the said King Vitey was a great Enchanter and Nigromancer, whom one 
Sune (being vexed with cruell warres by the Tartarians) coniured an euill spirit that shewed 
him the vse and making of Gunnes and Powder ; the which hee put in Warlike practise in the 
Realme oi Pegu, and in the conquest of the East Indies, and thereby quieted the Tartars. The 
same being confirmed by certain Portingales that have trauelled and Nauigated those quarters, 
and also affirmed by a letter sent from Captain Artred, written to the King of Spaine, wherein 
recounting very diligently all the particulars of Chyna, sayd, that they long since used there 
both Ordnance and Powder ; and affirming farther that there hee found ancient ill shapen 
pieces, and that those of later Foundings are of farre better fashion and metall than their 
ancient were." 

1 8 The Gun and its Development. 



Fire-arms of various kinds were well known to the ancients ; the accounts given of 
them are so incomprehensible, exaggerated and generally unreliable, that from 
them little beyond the fact of the existence of fire-arms can be learned. The 
development of fire-arms will therefore be traced from their introduction into 

Seville is said to have been defended in 1247 by "cannon throwing stones." 
On a cannon in the castle of Coucy is "Fait le 6 Mars, 1258, Raoul, Roi de 
Coucy"; the dates are in Arabic figures. In 1259 Melilla was defended by a 
machine which, from the description, must be a cannon or like fire-arm. In 1273 
Abou Yuesof used canon, firing stone shot, at the siege of Sidgil-messa. In 1301 
a "fire mouth" was made at Amberg. In 1308 Ferdinando IV. of Castille 
employed guns (marquenas de Trueiias) at the siege of Gibraltar. A cannon was 
found in 1560 among the ruins of the castle of Heyer, on the Rhine, which was 
destroyed in 1308. In 131 1 Ismail attacked Bazas, in Granada, with machines 
"throwing balls of fire, with a noise like thunder." In the archives of the town of 
Ghent it is stated that in 13 13 the town was possessed of a small cannon ; and in 
the records of the Florentine Republic it is stated that in 1325 two officers were 
ordered to manufacture cannon and iron bullets for the defence of the castles and 
villages belonging to the republic. From this date references to their use on the 
Continent are frequent. 

Fire-arms are said to have been possessed by the English in 13 10, and to have 
been used by them at the siege of D'Eu in that year. The first mention in a 
contemporary record is in an indenture dated 1338, between John Starlyng and 
Helmyng Leget, which mentions, as part of the equipment of the King's ship, 
" Bernard de la Tour.'' " ij. canons de ferr sanz estuff ; un canon de ferr ove ii. 
chambers, un autre de bras ove une chambre, un ketell," etc. ; also for the ship 
" X'ofre de la Tour''' "iij. canons de ferr ove v. chambres, un handgone," also "un 
petit barell de gonpouder, le quart plein." In 1346 John Cooke, a clerk of the 

Early Artillery. 19 

King's wardrobe, to which department the arms and munitions of war belonged, 
states that 912 lbs. of saltpetre and 846 lbs. of sulphur were provided for the use 
of the army in France ; later in the year, before Calais, he obtained a further 
supply. That fire-arms were used by the English at Cre9y in 1346 is a well- 
ascertained fact. In 1347 the words "gunnis" and "bombarde" first appear in the 

Fire-arms in War Chariot: Fifteenth Century. 

State records. When Chaucer wrote his " House of Fame " (about 1373) the use 
of fire-arms must have been widely known, since he draws a simile for speed from 
the firing of an engine filled with an explosive : 

" Swift as a pillet out of a gonne 
When fire is in the pouder ronne." 

" House of Fame," b. iii. 

In 1344 the household of Edward III. comprised : "Ingyners, Ivij. ; artillers, vj. ; 
gonners, vj." Their pay was sixpence a day in time of war. John Barbour wrote 
in 1375 that in 1327, at the battle of Werewater, the Scotch first saw fire-arms: 

" Twa nowehys that dai thai saw, 
That forouth in Scotland had bene nane 

20 The Gun and its Development 

Tymris for helmys war the tane 

That thaim thoucht than off grete bewte ; 

And alsua wondre for to se 

The tothyr crakys war off wer, 

That thai befor herd nevir er." 

An inventory of Baynard Castell in 1388 includes "j. petit gonne de feer." 
In the records of Henry IV., for 1400, there are mentioned payments for "quarrel 
gonnes, saltpetre and wadding"; in 1428 entries for " bastons a feu" (fire-sticks 
that is, hand-guns). 

Early fire-arms were variously named in Europe, hence much confusion as to the 
dates at which fire-arms were used. Valturius, who wrote in the fifteenth century, 
terms both cross-bows and cannon " balistse." Before gunpowder was used to 
propel missiles it was employed in or upon projectiles, sometimes affixed to lance- 
heads made tubular for the purpose ; hence, it is argued, the name " cannones " 
or tubes. Robert Norton has the following with reference to the naming of 
fire-arms : 

" Beraldus saith that at the first invention of Ordnance they were called by the name of 
Bombards (a word compounded of the verbes Bombo, which signifieth to sound, and of Ardeo, to 
burne), and they that used them they called Bombardeer, which name is yet partly retained. 
After which, as Bertholdus saith, they were called Turacio and Tiirrafragi, of the breaking-down 
of towers and walls : and by John de Monte Reggio they were called Tormenti, their shot Sphcera 
tormentaria, and the gunners Magistri tormentorum. But now [1628] Ordnance are eyther 
named at the will of the inventor, either according to his own name (as the Canon was) or by 
the names of birds and beasts of prey, lor their swiftness or their cruelty; as the Faulconet, 
Faulcon, Saker, and Culvering, etc., for swiftnesse of flying; as the Basiliske, Serpentine, 
Aspitic, Dragon, Syrene, etc., for cruelty." 

The Germans called their early arms " buchsen," or fire-boxes ; the Nether- 
landers " vogheleer " or " veugliares." The name "gun " is supposed to be derived 
from "maguinale " or "mangonel," an engine of war like the "balista." 


The earliest arms were small ; usually they were of iron forged, and shot arrows 
weighing about half a pound, and were charged with about a third of an ounce of 
powder. The fire-arm at Rouen in 1388 was of this description. With it were 
forty-eight bolts feathered iron arrows: these were put in from the muzzle. The 
charge of gunpowder was usually put in a separate movable breech-block or 

Early Cannon. [After Grose.) 

2 2 The Gun and its Development. 

chamber. Each cannon was usually supplied with two or more extra chambers. 
The first mention of cast cannon relates to thirty made by a founder named Aran 
at Augsburg, Germany, in 1378. These were of copper and tin. Another variety 

Breech-loading Cannon of the Fourteenth Century. 

Italian Bombard, after Marianus Jacobus. 

Iron Breech-loading 
Cannon of the Four- 
teenth Century. 

Early English Breech-loading Cannon. 

of the same early breech-loading cannon for use on ship-board differs only from the 
foregoing in having a wooden frame. These cannon were built up of iron strips 
surrounded by iron rings a method which continued for several centuries. The 
cannon often had trunnions, and were mounted as wall pieces, or, attached to 
wooden frames, were used as in the illustration from Grose's " Military Antiquities." 


Early Artillery. 


The smallest among the early fire-arms were the Italian bombards, one of 
which is here shown. These bombards were muzzle-loading, and had the powder 
chamber of much smaller calibre than the forward portion of the weapon this fore 
part was usually more or less taper both inside and out so that shot of different 
diameters might be fired from them. 

/There is little doubt that at first the chief advantage supposed to be possessed 
by fire-arms was the terror and confusion produced by their use ; as fighting men 

Italian Cerbotain of the Fourteenth Century mounted upon a Semi-portable Carriage. 

became more accustomed to them they were as far as possible improved, their 
range and calibre both increased, and they were employed for new purposes as, for 
instance, at sieges in lieu of battering-rams.*^ An arm of this description, mounted 
upon a semi-portable carriage, and so placed as to afford some protection to the 
gunner, is shown next. The illustration is after a manuscript decoration, and has 
no pretence to accuracy of detail either in the construction of the carriage or the 

a rlv a r til l er v. 


supports to the gun. This particular style of fire-arm is referred to by the name of 
*' blow tube," or cerbotain. Another early weapon was the " bombardo cubito," or 
" elbow-joint gun." In this, the tube of the cannon was fixed at right angles to 
the powder chamber, a, an aperture in the side of b permitting its introduction ; 
it was held in position by a wedge driven between a cross-piece of the frame and 
the rear of the powder-box. The angle of firing was adjusted by means of the 
prop, c. 

The difficulty in discharging fire-arms quickly was attempted to be met by 
making several cannons and uniting them on one carriage ; sometimes they were 
arranged like the spokes of a wheel, the breech ends towards the centre, at 

The Elbow-joint Bombard. 

which point the revolving table was pivoted vertically to a suitable stand. Some- 
times it appears to have been suggested that the cannon should be arranged as the 
felloes of the wheel ; in this case the disc turns on a horizontal pivot. Illustrations 
of such arms appear in old treatises, particularly in various editions of the military 
writings of Robert Walther (Valturius), but, like many of the drawings of this 
date, are presumably ideal sketches, and not copied from weapons actually in use. 
The bombards arranged on a vertically pivoted disc or table were frequently 
used, the principle being adhered to until quite recently, as will afterwards be 

f Large cannon were made at a very early date, even if they were never used. 
The fact that such a weapon was possessed by a town possibly terrorised oppo- 
nents. If so small a cannon as may be lifted by one man has wrought such havoc, 
how can any number of men stand before such fire-arms as these people possess ?* 

The " Mons Meg" of Edinburgh Castle, as it is, and as restored by M. Louis Figuier. 

Fifteenth-century German Cast Cannon, 

Early Artillery. 


f In 1 41 3 Mahomet II. had one of these huge weapons at the siege of 
Constantinople. It is reported to have been fgrty-eight inches in diameter, and 
to have fired a stone bullet of 600 lbs. weight. Froissart states that the people 
of Ghent made a large cannon which was used by D'Ardevelde at the siege 
of Oudenarde : " Therefore to terrify the garrison he caused to be made a 
marvellous great bombard ; which was forty feet long, and threw great heavy stones 
of wonderful bigness." 

At the middle of the fifteenth century the production of large cannon became 
quite common in Germany ; several of these huge weapons are often referred to 
by name, and have repeatedly figured in local chronicles. The " Foulenette " 


French "Orgue des Bombardes." 

was one, the "Helfant" another, the " Endorfferen " made for Sigismund of 
Tyrol in 1487, and was a pair with " Bassina " of the Paris Museum. A still 
larger cannon was the "Faust bucleae" of Frankfort, made in 1399 and used 
at the siege of Tannenburg Castle. Its bullet is said to have weighed 8| cwt. 
The *'Mons Meg" of Edinburgh Castle is supposed to have been of the same 
general construction as the cannon which in 1460 killed James II. of 
Scotland. " Mons Meg " was made at Mons, from which town it takes its name ; 
it is now badly broken. It weighs nearly four tons, and its stone shot is calculated 
to have weighed over 350 pounds. The touch-hole is placed a little in front of the 
powder chamber, and runs in an oblique direction. These large cannon all appear 
to have been muzzle-loaders ; ordinarily the powder chamber was of about one-third 

28 7'he Gun and its Development. 

the diameter of the bore of the cannon, and the usual method of construction was 
of iron strips and rings welded together as already described. These cannon were 
for the most part used in the defence of fortified towns or for besieging strong- 
holds ; it was not unusual for them to be made where they were to be used and, 
having served their purpose, they were broken up or retained for further use, since 
their removal was almost impossible. 

Small cannon were used at Cre(^y, the first credited employment of them on the 
field of battle. Such weapons were of a semi-portable character, were removed in 
carts or carried by hand from battle-field to battle-field with the camp baggage. 
The only pieces designed specially for field use were the " ribeaudequins " or 
" orgues des bombardes," which consisted of a number of small cannon on a 
common carriage^ the cannon often supplemented by a " chevaux de frise," or pikes 
were lashed to the carriage. It was rare that these weapons were fired more than 
once during a battle. Most of the early fire-arms shot arrows, stone, and iron shot, 
and in Germany the mortars were filled up with small stones about the size of 
walnuts the first form of what was afterwards long known as grape-shot. Other 
German States forbade the use of "hail shot" entirely. Monro, writing in 1626, with 
reference to early cannon states : " It is thought that the invention of cannon was 
found first at Nuremberg for the ruin of man, being at first used for battering down 
of walls of cities .... till at last they were used in the field to break the 
squadrons of foot and horse, some carrying pieces called spingards of four foot and 
a half long, and shot many bullets at once no greater than walnuts, which were 
carried on the fields on little chariots behind the troopers." 

In the Wars of the Roses cannon were but little used ; the Lancastrians had 
them in the field at Northampton, but, owing to the heavy rain, could not use them. 
At the taking of Bamborough Castle several were employed, and these were of 
different sizes some of iron, others of brass but the Yorkists did not wish to 
destroy the castle, but to take it whole and keep it for King Edward. For the 
siege of Harlech Castle a large cannon was requisitioned. It was brought specially 
from Calais, and had done good service in France, but it burst at Harlech 
probably because overloaded in order to obtain the range required. 

Very little more is known respecting these cannon except that each was 
separately named, as "The King's Daughter," "King Edward," "Bombartel," 
etc. ; that they were painted either bright red or black, or, if of brass, were 
brightly polished. They were the property of the King ; of the nobles ; or of the 
towns ; sometimes of humble individuals, who held their weapons and their own 
services for hire. 



30 The Gun and its Development. 

The battering-ram was the most important engine of war at sieges until the 
middle of the fifteenth century. Some of the larger rams were far more powerful 
than the largest of the early cannon : it has been computed that one worked 
by a thousand men had a force equal only to that from a 36-pounder at close 
range. In the Middle Ages the rams used were smaller, and other engines were 
used in conjunction with them to make breaches in the walls ; some of these are 
shown in the accompanying illustration from Grose's " Military Antiquities." 

To the improved cannon must be attributed the losses of the English in 
France during the reign of Henry VI. ; the artillery of Charles VII. was 
greatly superior to that possessed by any of the English garrisons, and fortress 
after fortress, impregnable with the earlier conditions of warfare, fell to the French 
artillery. At the siege of Orleans Metz lent the beleaguered town a gigantic cannon, 
and when Joan of Arc went to raise the siege she had with her an immense 
quantity of fire-arms. The few cannon then in the possession of the English in 
France are enumerated in a contemporary record cited in Stevenson's " Wars of 
the English in France." 

It was in Italy and Germany that cannon were manufactured and the early fire- 
arms developed ; and it was from these countries that the French were supplied with 
guns larger and in every way superior to any possessed by the English. After the 
Wars of the Roses the English remedied the defect. King Henry VIII. was 
particularly anxious to add to his store, and sometimes, as in 1522, he levied 
princely blackmail of fire-arms from the Venetian galleys trading to Flanders ; yet 
as early as 1513 the Venetian Ambassador had reported to the Doge that Henry 
had " cannon enough to conquer hell." A visitor to the Tower of London in 15 15 
states that there were then in the Tower about 400 cannon, and that most of them 
were mounted on wheels. It was in the reign of Henry VIII. that cannon were 
first cast in England. Peter Bawde, a Frenchman, was the artificer ; he cast brass 
cannon in Houndsditch in 1525. Later, about 1535, John O'Ewen was engaged in 
the work, and by 1543 the industry was flourishing at Uckfield, Sussex, then the 
centre of the iron trade in Britain. 

About this period also so numerous and divers were the pieces in use that they 
were divided into classes and arranged and named according to the calibre, length,. 
or weight. In France in the reign of Charles V. cannon were mounted upon 
carriages, and had trunnions and handles, and the touch-holes were covered with 
hinged flaps. The cannon of the French army then consisted of mortars, four 
sizes of cannon throwing bullets weighing from 6 to 40 lbs. each, and were called 
respectively, cannons, culverins, sackers, and falconets. In 1551, under Francis I.,. 

Early Artillery. 


the artillery of the French army consisted of six pieces, and as they included the 
leading styles of cannon of this period, a full description will not be out of place. 

The "cannon " was nearly 9 feet 10 inches long, weighed 5,300 lbs., carried a 
bullet 33^ lbs., and was drawn upon a carriage by twenty-one horses. 

The "great culverin " was nearly 10 feet long, weighed 4,000 lbs., carried a 
bullet 15 lbs. 2 ozs., and was drawn by seventeen horses. 

The "bastard culverin" was 9 feet long, weighed 2,500 lbs., and carried a bullet 
weighing 7 lbs. 2 ozs. ; it was drawn by eleven horses. 

The "small culverin" weighed 1,200 lbs., and carried a bullet weighing 2 lbs. 
The "falcon" weighed 700 lbs., and carried a bullet of i lb. 10 ozs.; and the 
"falconet," which was 6 feet 4 inches long, weighed 410 lbs., and carried a 14-oz. 

These cannon were of a bronze alloy, formed by mixing nine parts of copper to 
one part of tin. 

The following is an account of names, dimensions, weight of cannon, shot, and 
powder of the ancient English ordnance. (Time, Elizabeth and James I. ; but 
properly applicable to latter period.) 


Cannon royal . . . 


Cannon serpentine 

Bastard cannon 

Demi- cannon ... 

Cannon petro . . . 




Bastard culverin 

Sacar ... 




















Weight of Metal. 

Weight of Shot. 

Weight of Powder. 




















































Note. The weight of spherical lead shot of the diameter of the bore is often less than the 
weight of shot given- in the table; probably the weights indicate the safe limit of the load for 
grape, bar, spherical, or double shot. 


Jl" ' ' illilllliw 

Great Culverin. Bastard Culverin. Culverin. Falcon. Falconet. 

The Cannon of France under Francis I. (1515-47)- 

Early Artillery. 


Bas-relief from the Church of Genouillac : Sixteenth Century. 

A carving on an old French church shows a gun mounted without trunnions ; 
apparently fixed to the frame underneath by a loop, through which passes a 
transverse pin, so that the gun is capable of being elevated from the breech end. 


The first fire-arms, being made with a powder chamber of smaller diameter than 
the remainder of the short barrel, were therefore constructed upon the principle of 
the mortar. The touch-hole was usually placed in the front of the powder chamber. 
Mortars were classed separately from the cannon by Charles V. ; but they appear to 
have thrown stones or solid metal bullets, not shells. It is stated that red-hot iron 
shot were fired in defence of Cherbourg in 1418, at the siege of La Fere in 1580, 
just as at Gibraltar in 1782. The early gunners usually fired their guns with a red- 
hot iron rod heated in a charcoal fire m.ade for the purpose on the battle-field. 

Paul Jove, a historian contemporary with Charles VIII., and who chronicles the 
campaign of that monarch in Italy, says that the falcons and cannon of smaller 
calibre fired leaden bullets containing " bloqueraulx," or thimbles of iron. / Explosive 
bombs, or "grenades," appear to have been first used by the Germans.S They 
consisted of hollow metal balls filled with fine gunpowder ; the ball was surrounded 
by a slow-burning coat, and the whole contained in a case, the inflammable coat 

34 The Gun and its Development. 

being ignited immediately before throwing the bomb. To the Netherlanders, 
however, is due the honour of successfully applying the explosive shell to fire-arms. 
This nation appears to have greatly improved the cannon and mortars and other 
fire-arms during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. In the sixteenth 
century they successfully employed the explosive shell in conjunction with other 
missiles fired from their mortars. The accompanying illustration represents the 
mode of firing a mortar and bomb-shell, or, as they were then called, explosive 
bullets or grenades. 

The bomb, after being filled and a slow match placed in the aperture, was put 
into the mortar with the match projecting from the mouth of the mortar. This was 
first lit and afterwards the charge ignited. This system was found to be dangerous 

Soldier firing a Mortar and Bomb-shell requiring Double Ignition.! 

to the users, as in case of a misfire of the charge in the mortar, there was every 
probability of the shell bursting before the priming could be replaced or the shell 
extracted. ,' The Germans improved upon this plan by the bomb with a single 
ignition. Senfftenberg of Dantzic, in his book written in 1580, describes the 
new invention as consisting of a slow match composed of two different materials. 
The tube was capped on the outside of the shell by a coil of highly inflammable 
vegetable composition. The bomb was placed in the mortar, as shown, with the 
coiled cap of the shell projecting into the powder chamber. Upon the discharge of 
the mortar the powder ignited the cap, which fired the slow-match in the tube 

The Partridge Mortar. [From Grose's "Military Antiquities") 


The Gun and its Development. 

leading to the interior of the shell. Senfftenberg states that there was one 
drawback to this shell, viz. in making night attacks the burning tow on the 
shell lit up the surrounding country and showed to the enemy the position of 
the besiegers. Shortly afterwards oval bombs were successfully used, and shells 
made in two or more pieces and bolted together. Mortars were affixed to stands 
capable of firing a bullet at. any elevation between 40 degrees and the per- 

Mortar and Shell requiring Single Ignition only. 

Numerous weapons of a compound character were made in the fifteenth 
century; for instance, one large cannon with one of smaller bore on each side, 
or above or below. In mortars the most notable are those which fire three or 
more projectiles at the same time ; these were fired simultaneously by means of 
a common touch-hole communicating with each chamber. One of nine chambers 
is in the Tower, and another of thirteen is illustrated by Grose. 

Gun-carriage and Team of Horse : Sixteenth Century. 

Early Artillery. 



In addition to the primitive breech-loaders, in which the charge of powder was 
loaded into a separate breech-box and wedged up to the cannon, there were 
numerous methods employed for closing the breech of the cannon after inserting i 

the charge. One of these is shown in the annexed illustration. (The intercepted H'^'^ 
screw was used about the same timej; but in the seventeenth century, when cannon 
of greater strength were designed and grained gunpowder was used, it was found 
impossible to prevent the escape of gas at the breech, and the muzzle-loading 

German Breech-loading Cannon of the Sixteenth Century. 

cannon quickly superseded all methods of breech-loading for ordnance; and have 
but recently disappeared in favour of the perfected breech-loaders fitted with 
effective gas checks. 


The use of fire-arms on shipboard dates to the latter part of the fourteenth 
century, but the weapons had no distinctive feature. At the end of the following 
century it was usual for trading vessels to carry two or more bombards. The war 
vessels of the early sixteenth century were furnished with small cannon which were 
fired from the taffrail, and others which were fixed to the decks and fired through 
ports, as shown in the pictures still extant of the Great Harry. 


The Gun and its Development. 

The Mary Rose, an English vessel, was wrecked in the reign of Henry VIII., 
about 1 545, while standing along the coast. During a distant firing from the French 

Warship carrying Cannon. (After VaUurius, 1470- 1500.) 

fleet, under Admiral Annebout, she was overpowered by the weight of her 
ordnance, and sank, together with her commander and 600 men. Owing to the 
praiseworthy exertions of Mr. Dean, several brass and iron cannon were recovered 

Early Artillery. 


from the wreck about fifty years ago, and these reHcs throw some light upon the 
manner in which the Enghsh vessels were armed in the sixteenth century. 

The gun shown is composed of a tube of iron, its joint overlapping and running 
the entire length of the barrel. Upon this tube is a succession of hoops composed of 
iron three inches square, being, in fact, immense rings. These were driven on whilst 
red-hot, and by their contraction formed a much stronger gun than would at first 

' ~>V^^^\^' 

Breech-loading Cannon of the Mary Rose. 

appear probable. It was affixed to a large beam of timber by means of iron bolts, 
similar to the manner in which an iron musket-barrel is fastened to its stock. The 
loading was effected by removing a breech-block, inserting the charge, replacing the 
block, and wedging it into the barrel from behind, as shown on page 22. The recoil 
was prevented by means of a " bitt," or large beam, fixed perpendicularly in 
the deck. 

Similar cannon were found in the Tyne whilst dredging, and are still in the old 
castle at Newcastle-on-Tyne. 

The Venetians were among the first to use cannon on shipboard. In 1380 one 
of their vessels was taken at Sluies ; on board was a master gunner, " divers greate 
gunnes, and a quantitie of powder." This last is recorded by the chronicler to have 
been worth more than all the rest. 

40 The Gun and its Development. 

miscellaneous early arms. 

Cannon of three and more barrels were made in the fifteenth century ; a curious 
breech-loading cannon of this description is shown in the annexed illustration ; a 
different method of arranging the three barrels is also illustrated. 

The bore of the cannon was not always circular ; an oval-bore cannon was made 
in Germany in 1625. A weapon of still greater elliptical bore is shown on the 
opposite page. This peculiarly shaped mortar was sometimes used to make breaches 
in barricades at close quarters, when it was charged to the muzzle, and bars of iron 
fired from it. It was also used for firing bar-shot. 

Wooden Cannon of Cochin China. 

The petard was a peculiar arm used for affixing to doors or walls in order to 
effect a breach. It consisted of a short gun, or rather cannon, loaded to the muzzle, 
and fixed in a peculiar manner against the surface to be blown apart, so that when 
fired the door or wall should receive the shock, and not the petard. Their use has 
long been discontinued, bags of gunpowder hung against barricades answering the 
purpose just as well. 

Various substitutes for metal have been used for constructing cannon and 
mortars. Leather was probably the most successful ; it was often used by the 
Venetians, sometimes in conjunction with hempen rope, sometimes alone. A 
leather cannon was fired three times at King's Park, Edinburgh, in October, 1788. 
Cannon of paper, brought from Syria by the Crusaders, are preserved at Malta, and 
considered great curiosities. According to Nathaniel Nye, who wrote in 1640, an 
artificer of Bromsgrove, near Worcester, was very successful in making fire-arms 01 
paper and leather, and they were recommended by Nye, as master gunner of 
Worcester, because of their lightness and strength. 

Wooden cannon do not appear to have been at all common in Europe ; several 
have been brought from China and the East, where they seem to have been in 
general use. The one illustrated is still in the Paris Museum, and, as shown, is 

Old Cannon, Mortars, etc, from the Tower ol London. 


The Gun and its Development. 

hooped with iron. It is about 8 feet long, and the bore is 6 inches in diameter. 
The wood used is of hght colour, but very hard. The body of the cannon is in 
two pieces, each having a groove in its centre ; the two pieces are laid together with 
the grooves coinciding with each other, and hooped together. The breech consists 
of a wooden plug, dovetailed into the two pieces forming the cannon, and is bound 
with one iron ring. The joint of the two pieces is shown in the engraving, and the 
relative size and shape of the interior of the cannon, the dovetail of the breech- 
block, and the position and shape of the touch-hole, are shown by the dotted lines 
In the museum at Ziirich is a cannon made of a thin iron coil or tube sur- 
rounded by two pieces of grooved stone after the fashion of the wooden cannon 
on page 40, but joined together with cement, the whole being covered with leather. 

Soldier Firing Semi-portable Gun (from an early MS.). 

These remarks upon early cannon may be aptly concluded by an illustration 
from a painting of the early part of the sixteenth century, showing the manner of 
besieging at that period. 


The Gun and its Development. 



No distinction can be drawn between the small cannon or "crash-guns" of the 
fourteenth century and the earliest hand fire-arms. A pyrotechnical piece developed 
into a variety, of hand weapon, and used for military purposes especially for 
causing disturbances among troops, frightening horses and stampeding cattle was 
employed by Eastern nations and by the Arabs in Northern Africa. The following 
description of this weapon is from the " Dictionnaire Mobilier Frangais," and, 
according to that work, it was also used by incendiaries, pillagers, and outlaws. 
In the illustration B shows the exterior of the gun ; A is an end elevation, and C a 
sectional view showing the construction. The gun/consisted of an iron tube about 
six feet long, covered with two hollowed pieces or wood, and bound round with 

Pyrotechnical Hand-weapon. 

hair, hemp, hide, or other suitable substance. The charge was composed of, first, a 
bed of fine gunpowder, four fingers in thickness, /then a bulled made of hempen 
stuff mixed with powder, wax, etc., then a layer of coarse powder, composed of 
powdered glass,(. Grecian wax,- steel filings and saltpetre, then two fingers of fine 
powder and bullet alternately, until loaded to the muzzle ; it will thus be seen that 
the weapon greatly resembled a Roman candle or pu7np, throwing successively 
burning wax and inflammable balls. The weapon was, of course, fired from the 
muzzle, and the whole tube bound upon a stick, to handle it during the discharge. 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 45 

it is said that such weapons were in use amongst the Arabs during the fifteenth 

The " hand-cannon," as first used by the French, ItaHans, and Netherlanders, 
consisted of a small bombarde {bombardello) affixed to a straight piece of wood, 
and fired from the shoulder by means of a match, as shown in the accompanying 
illustration. A slight modification of this weapon rendered it applicable for use 
upon horseback. Instead of being fastened to a stock, the bombarde was welded 
on to an iron rod about 30 inches long ; the extremity of the rod was pierced, and 
a cord passed through, and thus suspended from the neck of the soldier. 

Foot Soldier firing Hand-cannon : Fourteenth Century, 

The bombarde was supported by a forked rest projecting from the saddle-bow, 
and pointed by the left hand, the right serving to apply the fire to the touch-hole. 
Both illustrations are from the MS. of Marianus Jacobus, written in 1449. 

The first account of hand-cannon being used in Germany Avas in 1381, when the 
town of Augsburg supplied thirty men armed with them to the contingent of the 
Suabian towns in their war against the South German nobles. 

The exact construction of these early cannon is shown by the annexed illustra- 
tion. The powder chamber was of smaller internal diameter than the bore of the 
gun, but externally larger ; the mount was sometimes a staff forced into the ferrule 
at the base of the chamber; more often a spike from the breech of the gun was 

46 The Gun and its Development. 

driven into the staff. These cannon were known as bastons-a-feu or " fire-sticks," 
and were common in the Netherlands in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 

[, These fire-arms were sometimes so fashioned as to be capable of use as clubs or 
battle-axes. The club pistol shown on page 48 is about two feet in length,(the touch- 
hole is on the top, and the pistol was held in one hand and fired by application of a 

Cavalier Firing Petronel. [After Marianus Jacobus.') 

slow-match from the other.] The next figure represents a pistol battle-axe in the 
Dresden Museum ; dotted lines show the position of the touch-hole. For use as a fire- 
arm the grip of the axe had to be reversed, and it was grasped near the head ; later 
pistols had the axe-head fixed upon the muzzle end of the barrel. The two weapons 
here illustrated are both of fifteenth century manufacture. 

The ordinary hand-culverin consisted of a small cannon aflfixed to a stock by 
iron bands, as represented. The barrel was of forged iron ; the stock of rough 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


wood, nearly straight ; the barrel being fastened to it by the five iron bands, and 
the two side bridles fastening the trunnion or swivel band to the butt. These 
culverins were of small bore (about ^ or f inch), and were extensively used towards 
the close of the fifteenth century ; for at the battle of Morat, in 1476, the Swiss 
army counted not less than 6,000 culveriners. The hand culverin required two 



Early Hand-guns, showing Methods of handling them, as illustrated in contemporary MS. ; and a 
Sectional View of Gun, showing its Construction. 

men to manipulate it. It was fired from a rest, sometimes forked (fourquine), and 
sharpened at its lower extremity to obtain a firm hold in the soil, and served also 
as a ramrod. One man (the culveriner) levelled and held the weapon during dis- 
charge, whilst his companion (the gougat) applied the priming and the match, and 
assisted in loading and carrying the weapon. The culverin was improved at a later 
date by haying the bore enlarged, the stock more bent, and affixed to the barrel by 
entering into a recess in its breech-end, as shown in the accompanying illustration 


The Gun and its Development. 

by the dotted lines. The internal bore of the barrel and the position of the 
toUch-hole are also shown by the dotted lines. A forked rest was used with this 

Iron Club Pistol of the Fifteenth Century. 

Pistol Battle-axe 

Early Culverin. 

Hand-culverin, with Bent Stock. 

culverin, and in some instances the stock was ornamented with grooves of various 
sizes. The culverin was afterwards improved by placing the touch-hole upon the 
side, with a flash-pan for the powder, as shown. The barrels were made of bronze, 
and cast in octagonal or hexagonal form ; the stock was lengthened, fitting under 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


the arm, and shaped like the butts of modern punt-guns. Several good specimens 
of these early culverins are to be seen in the Mus^e des Invalides at Paris. The 
culverins varied greatly in their dimensions and weight ; the smallest for horseback 
use, and similar to, or identical with, the petrinal, were about 4 feet long, and 
weighed from 10 to 1 5 lbs. ; the larger culverins were from 4 to 8 feet long, and weighed 
from 12 to 60 lbs. By the end of the fifteenth century hand-cannon were in use 
throughout Europe as military weapons. Charles VII. had a corps of horse-culver- 
iners, and the hand-culveriners of Charles VIII. played an important part in Italy 
during his campaign in 1494. Hand-cannon were also used by the Emperor 

Culverins with side Flash-pans. 

Sigismund, who led 500 men armed with " rest-guns," in his Roman campaign in 
1430, when they created a great sensation, although similar guns had been made at 
Padua as early as 1386. Hand-guns figured conspicuously in the Hussite wars, 
and at the siege of Lucca by the Florentines in 1431. All these early hand-guns 
were, however, roughly constructed, for their accuracy in hitting was as small as the 
trouble of loading was great, and their imperfections as numerous as those of the 
gunpowder with which they were fired, which was veritably powder, resembling dust 
powder not being granulated till the sixteenth century. 

The first English illustration of a hand-gun appears in the Royal MS. 18 E. 
fol. xxxiv., written in 1473. O^^ P^ge 5 1 is reproduced the illustration, which, however, 
has already appeared in " Hewitt's Ancient Arms and Armour." The drawing is not 
an explicit one ; it fails to show the position of the touch-hole, or to explain in 
which way the gun was fired. As the bearer carries neither flask nor pouch, he must 
have been accompanied by an attendant, who carried the accessories and applied 

Early Hand Firr-Arms. 5' 

the ignition to the arm. The position of the man is very peculiar, and one not 
well calculated to withstand the recoil. The manner of grasping the gun is also 
original, and from the general appearance of the drawing it appears to represent a 

Soldier Firing Hand-gun : Fifteenth Century 

soldier shooting a weapon of precision at a dead mark. Much allowance must, of 
course, be made for the rude drawing of the time a point still more emphasised in 
the preceding group, which is reproduced from a German MS. of 1430--40, now in 


The development of the matchlock is shown in the following illustrations, all 
taken from German MSS. of 1460-80, now in the Royal University Library at 
Erlangen. The pointed protuberance at the muzzle is, of course, the sight, the 
corresponding jagged disc at the breech of the middle gun of the group may be 
a back-sight, or simply points upon which to fasten the prepared tow which served 
as a slow-match ; more probably the former, since in the third figure the disc to 

The Development of the " Matchlock. 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


protect the hand of the firer from being burnt by the powder in the flash-pan is 
undoubtedly notched in order to serve as a back-sight. 


The main feature of the invention consists of the " serpentin," or cock for 
holding the match. In later models the arrangement was as in the following 

Gun with Serpentin 

The slow-match is kept burning in a. holder on the top of the barrel; the 
flash-pan and touch-hole are at the side. The serpentin is hung upon a pivot 
passing through the stock and continued past the pivot, forming a lever for the 
hand. To discharge the piece the match in the serpentin is first brought into 
contact with the burning match on the barrel until ignited : then, by raising the 
lever and moving it to one side, the serpentin is brought into the priming in 
the touch-hole, and the gun discharged though it is highly probable the first 
arquebuses did not carry the fire in a holder on the barrel, but only the match 
in the serpentin. 

The advantages of the matchlock were at once appreciated, and its adoption 
was general. Its improvement was rapid ; in great measure due to the adaptation 
of the releasing trigger mechanism of the cross-bow to the fire-arm. 

In a few years it was found advantageous to place the serpentin the reverse 
way, and to provide a spring to hold the match away from the touch-hole; 
pressure upon the lever caused the serpentin with the lighted match to fall into 
the flash-pan. This is the mechanism shown in the illustration of the lock. The 


The Gun and its Development. 

same general arrangement will be noticed in the matchlock fire-arms carried by the 
soldiers elsewhere illustrated in this chapter. Particularly the simple arquebus, as 

Mechanism of the Matchlock. 

used by the Spaniards in 1527, when they captured Francis I. at Pavia, which 
had a trigger matchlock, to which mechanism the success of that battle has 
been attributed. This weapon was also used by the Spaniards in the conquest 
of Mexico (15 1 9) and Peru (1530-40). 

Spanish Arquebusier of the Sixteenth Century. 

Early Hand Fire- Arms. 55 

opposition to the use of fire-arms. 

Guns upon their introduction, and more especially hand-guns, met with great 

The French were perhaps the most bitter against them. One old French 
author says : 

"On ne faisoit point encore usage en France, en 1547, de cette arme terrible centre las 
hommes; les Fran9ois s'en etoient bien servis en 1338, pour I'attaque de quelques chateaux 
mais ils rougissoient de I'employer contre leurs semblables. Les Anglais, moins humains, sans 
doute, nous devancerent et s'en servirent a la celebre bataille de Cre9i, qui eut lieu entre ces 
troupes du Roi d'Angleterre, Edouard III., qui fut si mechant, si perfide, qui donna tant de fil 
a retordre a Philippe de Valois et aux troupes de ce dernier; et ce fut en majeure partie a la 
frayeur et a la confusion qu'occasionnerent les canons, dont les Anglois se servoient pour la 
premiere fois, qu'ils avoient postes sur une colline proche le village de Cre9i, que les Fran9oi3 
derent leur route." 


" No use has yet been made in France, in 1547, of that terrible weapon against men. The 
French used it with good effect against some castles in 1338, but they would blush to employ it 
against their fellow-creatures. The English, less humane, without doubt outstripped us, and 
made use of some at the celebrated battle of Cre9y, which took place against the troops of 
King Edward III. of England, who. was so spiteful and treacherous that he plagued Philip de 
Valois and his troops to the last ; and the greater part of the terror and confusion was 
occasioned by the cannon, which the English used for the first time, and had placed upon a 
knoll near the village of Cre^y, and to which the French assign their defeat." 

When the celebrated Montluc made his first appearance in the field under 
Francis I. fire-arms were less esteemed than the cross-bow, and the characteristic 
remark made by him in '' Michaud et Poujoulat" clearly shows his opinion of these 
new weapons : 

" I must observe," says Montluc, " that the troops which I commanded consisted of cross- 
bow men only ; since at that time there were in our nation no soldiers armed with guns. Only 
three or four days before, six Gascon arquebusiers, deserters, came over from the enemy's camp 
to our army, and these men I kept with me, as I had the good fortune on that day to be on 
duty at the gate of the town. One of these men was from the Montluc estates. I wonder, 
however, that it could have been the will of Providence that this unlucky instrument should 
have been invented, I myself still bear about me the marks that it has left, which even now 
cause me to suffer much weakness ; and have seen brave and valiant men killed with it in 
such sad numbers, and it generally happened that they were struck down to the ground by 
those abominable bullets, which had been discharged by cowardly and base knaves, who 
would never have dared to have met true soldiers face to face and hand to hand. All this is 
very clearly one of those artifices which the devil employs to induce us human beings to kill 
one another " 

56 The Gun and its Development. 

Fire-arms were greatly dreaded by all classes, and Shakespeare humorously 
alludes to this fact in King Henry IV. ; 

"And that it was a great pity, so it was, 
That villainous saltpetre should be digg'd 
Out of the bowels of the harmless earth. 
Which many a good tall fellow had destroyed 
So cowardly ; and, but for those vile guns. 
He would himself have been a soldier." 

Henry IV., act i. scene iii. 

Most loudly did the armoured knights clamour against the use of fire-arms, for 
even their thick armour could not be made proof against the heavy bullets, and 
it was not a usual thing for a well-armoured knight to be killed. A good suit of 
armour would generally repel the blow of an arrow or quarrel; although the 
horses, not so fortunate, and driven mad by the rage and pain caused by the 
thrusts of the rough barbed missiles, would rear and throw their riders ; then 
the doughty warriors would roll about for a time upon the earth, to retire with 
only a few bruises, and ready to engage in the tilting match another day. In 
several battles about this time not a single knight was slain ; even when un- 
horsed, it was difficult to administer the couJ> de grace to the valiant cavalier, for 
the misericorde, or dagger of mercy, refused to penetrate the chinks of a closely 
jointed suit. 

At the battle of Fournoue a number of Italian knights, being unhorsed, could 
only be killed after they and their armour had been broken up, like so many 
lobsters, with wood-cutters' axes. Well might James I. remark that defensive 
armour was a double protection, preventing the bearer from being injured or from 
injuring others. 

Gunshot wounds in these early days were considered to be all but necessarily 
mortal, which may be accounted for by the unskilful surgery of the times. Some 
of the recipes for the cure of gunshot wounds were, however, much more likely to 
prove mortal than the wound itself. The following is one given, but the precise 
details are wanting : Take of oil and wine equal parts, inject them into a living 
dog, well boil the animal ; its flesh, together with the oil, wine, and other in- 
gredients, form the application. 

It was clear that the armour could never be so increased in strength as to 
withstand the missiles from field artillery, even if successful against the hand- 
guns. The gunners improved in marksmanship, and then weapons were more 
carefully made, so that they at length became formidable, and, as they were 

58 The Gun and its Development. 

numerous in every army by the middle of the sixteenth century, the heavily 
mailed knights bowed to the inevitable, and protective armour gradually decayed, 
after having been so increased in weight that the horses could barely sustain 
their burden. 


The harquebusier or culveriner the man who carried and fired a hand-gun 
was usually also conversant with its manufacture, sometimes was the actual maker 
of the weapon ; hence the application of the name to gun-makers. The great 
difficulty with which he had to contend in the field of battle was obtaining fire with 
which to ignite his gun or, when armed with a matchlock, to keep the match aglow. 
The weapons were very heavy, most unwieldy, tiresome to load, and continually 
missing fire. 

Having discharged their weapons, a body of culveriners would be for the 
time defenceless. To remedy this, the culveriner was supplied with a sword, 
or the rest was converted into a defensive weapon, by adjoining a dagger, which 
was released by a spring. Such rests received the name of swines, or Swedish 

The sword was too much for the early culveriner, for he had already too many 
encumbrances. Grose says that " he had, in addition to the unwieldy weapon 
itself, his coarse powder, for loading, in a flask ; his fine powder, for priming, in a 
touch-box ; his bullets in a leather bag, with strings to draw to get at them ; whilst 
in his hand were his musket-rest and his burning match." 

The French culveriners, too, generally carried their lighted fuse at the girdle, 
until about firing, when it was wound round the right arm. With all these 
encumbrances, it is not surprising to find that the bow was for many years 
considered a superior weapon. 

The culveriner was generally accompanied by an attendant, called a " varlet " or 
gougai, to carry the rests and keep the fire going a difficult matter in a shower of 
rain, unless, as was once the custom, the matches were carried in the hat. History 
states that great difficulty in retaining the fire was experienced by the English 
musketeers in the battle of Dunbar (1650), which was fought during a dense fog, 
and a heavy fall of rain took place the night previous, to which the troops were 

An extract from an old military work will give some idea of the powder, matches, 
and arms of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It is from the " Military 
Fireworks," by Kabel, published in 16 19. The author says : 


The Gun and its Development. 

" One of the greatest helpes consist in the pouther and match. For a souldier must ever 
buy his pouther sharpe in taste, well incorporate with saltpetre, and not full of coal-dust (raw 
charcoal). Let him accustome to drie his powder, if he can, in the sunne, just sprinkling it 
over with aqua vita or strong claret wine. Let him make his tutch powder, being finely sarsed 
and sifted, with quick-pale, which is to be bought at the powder-maker's or apothecarie's ; and 
let his match be boyled in ashes-lie and powder, that it may bothe burn well and carry a 
long coale, and that will not falle off with touch of his finger. This preparation will at first 
touch give fire, and procure a violent, speedy, and thundering discharge. Some use brim- 
stone, finely powdered, in their touch powder, but that furs and stops up your breech and 

" The bullet of a souldier's piece must be of a just bignesse with the mouth of the same, so 
that, falling in smoothly, it drive down and close up the mouth of. the powder. If the stock of 
his piece be crooked, he ought to place the end just before the right papp ; if long and straight, 
as the Spaniards use them, then upon the point of his right shoulder, using a stately upright 

Horseman using Hand-cannon. 

pace in discharge. The musquet is to be used in all respects like the harqabuse, save that in 
respect it carries a double bullet, and is much more weightie. The souldier useth a staffe 
breaste high, in the one end a pike to pitch on the ground, and in the other an iron forke to 
rest his piece upon, and a hole a little beneath the same in the staffe, whereunto he doth 
adde a string, which tied and wrapped about his wrest, yealdes him commodity to train his 
forke or staffe after him, whilst he in skirmish doth charge his musquet afresh with powder 
and bullet." 

The difference between the musket and arquebus is here defined. At a later 
period, the hght for igniting the matches was carried by a slow-burning fuse 

Eaklv Band Fire-Arms. 6i 

contained in a metal case perforated with small holes to afford egress for the smoke. 

The Holy-water Sprinkle. 

These fire-holders were usually attached to the girdle. All the early fire-arms were 
so slow to load that as late as the battle of Kuisyingen, in 1636, the slowest soldiers 

Gun V. Lance. {From a Sixteenth Century German Treatise on Military Exercises!) 

managed to fire seven shots only during eight hours ; and in 1638, at Wittenmergen, 
the musketeers of the Duke of Weimar shot 
seven times only during the action that lasted 
from noon to eight o'clock in the evening. 


The object of the early gunner was to 
frighten; guns were made expressly for the 
purpose of the report caused by firing them 
"crakys of war" they were termed and, 
indeed, this appears to have been the most 
valuable and satisfactory performance of the 
early guns; for Montaigne wrote in 1585, when 
numerous improvements had been made, that 

German Shooter, 1545. 


The Gun and its Development. 

" the efifect of fire-arms, apart from the shock caused by the report, to which 
one does not easily get accustomed," was so insignificant that he hoped they 
would be discarded. 

To add to the terror of the knights, and for unexpected use at close quarters, a 
variety of peculiar fire-arms were produced. The repeating arm was advantageous 
when the enemy, having seen the gun discharged, came boldly up and was fired 

Methods of Shooting in the Sixteenth Century. 

upon again and again at very close range. So the pistol battle-axes and clubs 
already described were a species of secret or surprise weapon. The " Holy-water 
Sprinkle," a fire-arm much favoured by the English of the early sixteenth century, 
consisted of a strong mace, the head of which was formed by four or more barrels 
joined and arranged in the same manner as the chamber of a modern revolver, and 
having upon the outside one or more spike-studded collars. There was usually 
but one flash-pan having connection with all the barrels ; the powder was placed 
in and fired by a match from the hand. 

For use on horseback the fire-arm appears to have been considered as 
supplementary to lance and sword until the middle of the sixteenth century. 
Old drawings show that it was of secondary importance. Books of military 
exercises instruct the gunner how to use his weapons to best advantage against 
infantry, but the fact that the fire-arms could be used by cavalry as an offensive 
weapon against foot soldiers was not soon discovered. 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


The German cavalry called Ritters were the first to use the pistol with signal 
success. At the battle of Repty, fought in 1544, they charged the French 
in squadrons fifteen to twenty ranks deep, and halted immediately on coming 

South German Harquebusiers, 1500-10. 

within range, each rank firing in turn and wheeling to the right or left, falling in 
again at the rear and reloading the pistols. The manoeuvre, called " caracole," 
was entirely new, and was at once adopted in the French army ; and occasioned 
lances to be gradually but surely replaced by pistols. 

64 The Gun and its Development. 

The methods of holding the gun whilst firing were as various as the weapons 
used. From the illustration on page 62 it will be seen that many shots were made 
with the butt of the gun against the hips or against the breastbone. Short guns 
appear to have been held against the cheek, and, as already shown, the earliest 
hand-cannon were fired whilst the butt rested upon the shoulder a method 
confirmed by the shape of gun stocks of very much later date. 


The group of shooters is from a picture by M. Ferelen, and is dated 1533 ; 
the shooter kneeling is from a wood-cut of 1545. It was usual to shoot with both 
eyes open at this date, but from a drawing of 1500-10 in the Munich State 
Library the habit of closing one eye was also practised; this drawing is here 
reproduced (page 63), and shows the intention of the shooter unmistakably. 


To obviate the difficulty of retaining fire in the matchlock, it was sought in 
Germany, early in the sixteenth century, to fix a flint and steel to the side of the 
gun, the powder in the flash-pan serving the purpose of the tinder in the box of the 
domestic strike-fires. In the Dresden Museum the " Monk's Gun," as it is called, 

The "Monk's Gun," 1510-15. 

is still preserved, and, as will be seen by the illustration, the friction necessary to the 
production of the sparks is obtained by drawing out and pushing in the roughened 
steel, or file, against the flake of flint which presses down upon it near the flash-hole. 
The pyrites is held in the jaws of the serpentin so shaped as to form a strong 
spring upon the side of the weapon ; there is a guard underneath to assist the hand 
whilst gripping the pistol. The ring at the breech is attached to a bar of steel with 
a serrated edge against which the pyrites presses : the touch-hole is immediately in 
front of the pyrites ; by drawing the ring sharply the serrated edges move past the 
pyrites, and the required stream of sparks is thus obtained and the priming ignited. 


Early Hand F/ke-Arms. 65 

The wheel-lock proper was invented in 15 15 at Nuremberg, and its mechanism 
was entirely different to anything constructed up to that date. Its parts were a 
grooved steel wheel with serrated edge, which worked partly in the flash-pan, and 
was connected to the lock-plate by means of chain and strong spring, after the 
fashion of a watch-drum. The spring power was stored by winding the wheel up 
with a key or "spanner." In front of the pan a catch was placed, moved by a 
strong spring, and holding a pyrite with its jaws. When ready for firing, the wheel 
was wound up, the flash-pan lid pushed back, and the pyrites held in the cock 
allowed to come in contact with the wheel, ^hy pressure on the trigger a stop-pin 
was drawn back out of the wheel, and the latter, turning roumL/tj pivot at a 
considerable speed, produced sparks by the friction against ^e'/pyrites, and thus 
ignited the priming. 

The improvements in the application of the flint for the purpose of igniting fire- 
arms were made by Kehfuss, of Nuremberg, in 15 17, further improvements of note 
being made in 1573 and 1632 at Nuremberg and in Venice about 1584. 

The next illustration shows the mechanism of the ordinary German wheel-lock ; 
AA, is the lock-plate; bb, the wheel-drum; c, the axle; d, the serpentin holding 

The German Wheel-lock. 

the pyrite, e, and kept pressing against the edge of the wheel, b, in the flash-pan, 
G, by means of the spring, f. The scear and scear-spring are arranged upon the 
opposite side of the plate. At first the scear simply withdrew from a notch in the 
wheel, but later various complicated mechanisms were affixed ; but they are not of 
sufficient utility to require a description. The scear was acted upon by a trigger in 
the usual way. 

The wheel-lock gun was most expensive to manufacture, and was therefore 
confined in a great measure to sporting purposes and for use upon horseback, where 
it offered great advantages over the clumsy, but far less expensive, matchlock 

66 The Gun and its Development. 

arquebus. With the introduction of the wheel-lock the fire-arm came into more 
general use for sporting purposes : with the old-fashioned culverins, or hand-cannon, 
game could only be shot upon rare opportunities, or by waiting cache until the 
unwary animals passed the sportsman, and it was altogether impossible to take a 
fine aim ; with the wheel-lock a steady aim could be obtained ; the guns were made 
lighter, and leaden bullets used. 

The use of fire-arms for sporting and other purposes became so general towards 
the middle of the sixteenth century that a prohibition appeared in the State Papers 
of the Elector Augustus of Saxony, dated the loth October, 1555, and in it the 
following passage occurs : "Whereas the carrying of fire-arms in our dominions has 
become so general that not only travellers, but peasants and shepherds, are found 
to use them." 


I In the flint-lock the hammer, or cover plate to the flash-pan, is knocked back- 
wards by the blow of the flint screwed in the jaws of the cock, and uncovers the 

Spanish Flint-lock. 

priming in the flash-pan, which is ignited by the sparks caused by the flint coming 
into contact with the steel face of the hammer. ' 

The most reliable accounts state the flint-lock to have been of Spanish 
origin, and invented early in the seventeenth century, and prior to 1630. Im- 
mediately upon its introduction it was styled the Lock k la Miquelet, and so named, 
it is said, from a Spanish regiment composed of marauders (Miquelitos) of the 
Pyrenees ; in which case the account of its invention will correspond somewhat 
with that given by Grose and other English writers, who state the flint-lock to have 
been of Dutch origin, and first used by robbers, or rather poultry stealers {snaap- 
hans), who, it is said, invented the flint-lock from a study of the wheel-lock, the 
use of the matchlock exposing them, on their marauding expeditions, to great 

Eakly Band Fire-Arms. 67 

inconvenience from the light of the priming-match showing their position, and they 
being unable to provide themselves with wheel-locks on account of their heavy cost. 
The flint-lock was called after them the Snaphaunce, under which name it certainly 
was known for many years in the Netherlands. Soon after their introduction the 
flint-lock giins were called fusils, from the flints {/uci/e), by a very common abuse of 
language, which consists in giving to an entire object a name taken from one of its 
parts. The flint-lock is so well known that it is almost unnecessary to describe its 

Many years elapsed before the lock assumed even the shape and arrangement 
generally known, but it consisted of a mainspring upon the outside of the lock- 
plate that answered also for the hammer-spring, and had no swivel ; the scear 
and the piece of metal answering to what afterwards became the tumblers were 
fixed upon the inside of the lock-plate. The illustration represents an early Spanish 
flint-lock taken from a gun in the royal collection at Dresden, and which, from 
the ornamentation upon it, appears to be intended for a sporting weapon. 

The flint-lock was not readily adopted either in England or France. In the 
latter country the generals of Louis XIII. raised numerous objections to its use, 
saying^as was indeed true that the sparks caused by the flint striking the hammer 
were not always sufificient to fire the charge, the stream of sparks going on either 
side of the pan, and failing to enter it. To remedy this fault musket fusils were 
constructed, which consisted of guns having a combination of both the flint and the 

In the year 1653,. by an ordinance of Louis XIV., soldiers were forbidden to use 
flint-lock guns, and by another, later in the same year, the use of these guns by 
soldiers was made a crime punishable with death. They were introduced into 
England in the reign of William III., and from that time gradually increased in 
favour till they became the general weapons of this country. They remained in use 
in the British army until 1840, flint guns being manufactured in Birmingham for 
the English Government as late as 1842. 


As a sporting weapon, the gun dates from the invention of the wheel-lock ; 
before that period the long-bow in England and the cross-bow on the Continent 
were the usual weapons of the chase. In the fifteenth century fire-arms were used 
for sporting purposes in Italy, Spain, Germany, and to a lesser extent in France. 
In Great Britain little use appears to have been made of them for game-shooting 


The Gun and its Development. 

until the latter half of the seventeenth century, and at that time the arms used for the 
purpose were entirely of foreign make. 

The large, long, heavy hand-cannon used for military purposes were quite 
unsuited to the chase, but from certain references in mediaeval manuscripts it 
appears that they were occasionally so used. The earliest gun at all suited to 
purposes of sport is the short matchlock here shown ; but it may have been 
intended to serve primarily as a weapon of defence. 

The invention of rifling at Nuremberg in the fifteenth century leading to the 
production of arms giving greater accuracy, and the invention of the wheel-lock 

German Matchlock Gun. 

permitting fire-arms to be used for stalking, for which the matchlock with its ever- 
burning torch could not be used, led to the acceptance of fire-arms by sportsmen. 
These arms, being evidently expensive and highly valued, have been so well 
preserved that numerous specimens still exist. Some few well deserve fuller 
description than space permits, but the illustrations will doubtless convey a better 
idea of their finish than would any verbal enumeration of their dimensions and 


The first weapon illustrated is a German rifle of the first half of the seventeenth 
century. This beautiful weapon is one of several equally valuable found in the 
Birmingham collection. It is a wheel-lock musket, of which the serpentin 
resembles the head of a griffin. The stock is richly carved with scroll designs, and 
the engraving upon the weapon, especially that of the lock-plate, is worthy of the 
highest commendation, representing a hunting party in chase of a stag. The barrel 
bears the stamp and name of the maker, I. Georg Dax in Munchen. 

The wheel is inside the lock-plate and the pressing of the trigger causes the 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


flash-pan {couvri bassinet) to slide back ; a safety-bolt is also attached to this gun, 
which is actuated by a small pointed stud descending from the stock immediately in 
front of the trigger. A bead-sight is affixed upon the muzzle, and a back wind- 
gauge peep -elevating sight is placed upon the stock in front of the grip. This sight 
is exactly similar in construction to the one used during the first half of the present 
century by the late Mr. J. Purdey and other English gun-makers. 

Ornamental German Wheel-lock Musquetoon. 

The next arm illustrated is of a similar type and character, but the workmanship 
is of better quality. The stock is inlaid with ivory and ebony in fanciful designs. 

The engraving upon the lock-plate represents an army encamped. It is of a 
little later date than the preceding gun. The barrel is rifled, and the weapon 
appears to be of German manufacture, and probably was made about the end of the 
seventeenth century. 

The next to be illustrated are four " handbiichse," taken promiscuously from a 
case in the Dresden Museum. The upper one is a German rifle, the wheel-lock and 
hammer artfully concealed by the stag; the back sight is silver, the stock artistically 
inlaid with sporting and scroll designs, of a shape prevalent in Germany in the 
seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 

The next is a wheel-lock sporting carbine, the well-curved slock being profusely 


The Gun and its Development. 

ornamented by silver and ivory inlaying. The third rifle has the stock wholly of 
buck-horn, and doubtless was so constructed by way of novelty. It, as well as the 
two preceding, is of Saxon make. Saxon pistols, too, of same date and style, are in 
the Museum; the stock of one, some i8 inches in length, being carved from one 
horn, and without a join a rare sample of man's ingenuity. It would be tedious to 
enumerate the various materials of which gun-stocks have been constructed. Woods 
of almost every known kind, steel, iron, copper, silver, whalebone, ivory, leather, paper, 

Ornamental Musket : Seventeenth Century. 

and even straw, have each in their turn been used for the purpose of stocking. A 
remarkable weapon the stock composed of many-coloured plaited straws is in the 
Dresden Museum. The weight of the arm a ball gun, the barrel 34 inches long 
is barely 6h pounds; the effect of the brightly-dyed straws is pleasing, and the 
numerous plaits are fixed and the stock made rigid by a strong glue. 

The last arm figuring in the illustration is an early South German wheel-lock, the 
stock and lock both presenting ornamentation of a superior kind and worthy of 

72 The Gun and its Development. 

emulation, the stock of the shape common in Italy as late as the early part ot last 
century, and to this day the favourite of several Eastern peoples. 

These arms show that not only was the strength of the gun studied, but attention 
also directed towards symmetry and artistic embellishment. Specimens of German 
ornamentation have already been shown and remarked upon ; but to make even 
more clear the talent and knowledge of these industrious artisans two other 
illustrations are appended, wood-cuts that have taxed the skill of the best engravers 
to produce. In these weapons the artists have given free play to their fancy both in 
shaping and ornamenting their stocks. The utile limbs, especially the trigger and 
its guard, exist in the cruder forms a curved bit of wire or a bent metal ribbon 
serve as limbs which, in later days, have exercised the fancy of the leading gun- 
smiths of Europe : the shaping of triggers and guard being now esteemed as of 
almost equal importance as the lay and shape of stock. 

In " Die Moderne Gewehr Fabrikation,'' by F. Brandeis, the following short 
history of gun ornamentation is given : " In the earlier times Mythology furnished 
the best subjects for the embellishment of weapons, and of fire-arms more par- 
ticularly. The goddess of the chase, Diana, for a sporting gun ; Vulcan, the 
fire-god, for a fire-lock; Vesta, as tutelar goddess of smiths, for a percussion gun; 
whilst Venus, Mars, and Neptune supplied other needful and very ingenious 
allegories. Ancient stories also furnished the Middle Ages with ample designs for 
both chiselling and engraving the gun. Thus it was the fashion to ornament the 
lock-plate with dragons, serpents, tigers, griffins, and leopards, and finally with 
devils, pigmies, and other comical and unbeautiful figures. Afterwards, and 
certainly for a long time, were devils and gods wholly ignored, and the ornamenta- 
tion confined to representations of sporting scenes and game with various foliage 
and scroll-work combinations, which style originated in Paris and gradually 
extended over Europe." 


The Italian gun-smiths surpassed the Germans in the elegance of their forged 
and chiselled barrels, and generally in the design of the fire-arms they made. Their 
work is more particularly noticed in connection with pistols, of which the specimens 
extant are more numerous than those of guns or rifles. Oi the two specimens 
illustrated here the first represents a beautiful example of a Venetian rifle of the 
sixteenth century. It has a wheel-lock in which the whole of the mechanism 
is arranged upon the exterior of the lock-plate, and may be easily understood by a 

Flint-lock Hammerless Gun. 

Venetian Rifle. 


74 The Gun and its Development. 

reference to the engraving. The butt is of a pecuUar shape, and has a box-trap 
covered with a sUding wooden lid. The guard is of an original pattern, but 
the trigger, the plainest feature in the gun, consists of simply a straight piece 
of wire. The stock, which is of walnut, is inlaid with gold, mosaic, filigree, 
and mother-of-pearl, and is probably as fine a sample of ornamentation as any ex- 
tant. The barrel is beautifully damascened and inlaid. It is bell-nosed upon the 
outside. The bore of the rifle, which is hexagonal, is very small, five-sixteenths of 
an inch. An end view of the muzzle is also given, and shows the enormous 
thickness at that part. The grooves are straight, but in other respects the bore is 
similar to the Whitworth. 

The other illustration represents an early hammerless gun. The body of this 
weapon is of brass chiselled. The hammer is fixed upon a hinge, and kept in 
position over the flash-pan by means of a spring ; the flash-pan is at the base of 
the barrel in the body. The flint is fixed upon a rod working in the body, and 
actuated by a spiral spring. To cock the gun the flint is drawn back by means of 
the knob underneath the barrel, which is affixed to the rod in the body. There is 
a notch in the rod into which a scear engages. When the gun is cocked, and the 
hammer placed in its position, the gun presents no protuberances whatever, but is 
to all intents a hammerless gun. Even at this early date the advantages of having 
no complicated mechanism or ever-entangling hooks upon the exterior appear to 
have been well appreciated, for in the Continental museums are preserved several 
high-class specimens of guns so constructed. 

In the Paris Museum there are two, one differing in no respect from the one 
illustrated, but better made ; the other is a breech-loader of Portuguese manufacture, 
and bears the inscription " Fabrica-real, Lisboa, anno 1779." It is a breech-loader, 
all the mechanism being covered by a semicircular hinged lid. The mode of 
igniting the charge is by a flint and spiral spring, as already described. The barrel 
is fixed to the stock, the charge being ignited by the manipulation of the 


The French gun-makers of St. Etienne claim for their town that it is the oldest 
centre of the fire-arms industry. They do not appear to have made more than the 
barrels of the finest sporting arms, and these even were sometimes made in Paris. 
The production of fire-arms by the artists of Paris reached its zenith about the 
middle of the seventeenth century. The annexed illustrations represent French 

Early Band Fire- Arms 


arms in the Paris Museum. In the first figure will be found an example of the 
excessive ornamentation produced by carving in relief, the deeply sunk hollows 
interspersed amongst the raised work having anything but a pleasing effect. In the 
figure representing a musquetoon with a double wheel-lock the ornamentation 
consists of inlaying the stock with metals, mother-of-pearl, and ivory. The devices 

French Arms in the Mus^e des Invahdes, Paris. 

consist of an odd medley of human figures, animals, foliage and scroll, but the 
general effect is much more pleasing than that shown in the preceding. The last 
figure represents a matchlock musket that formerly belonged to the celebrated 
Cardinal Richelieu, and this curiously shaped and remarkable weapon is best 
described in the expressive words used by M. L'Haridon in the catalogue ot the 
Museum: "The barrel cut and squared towards the base, chased and gilt, 
exhibits three oval medallions, representing in relief warriors in ancient armour. 
The sight is formed of two rams' heads coupled together. The upper part of the 
barrel, formed like a fluted column, supports a capital in which are introduced four 

76 The Gun and its DevelopaMent. 

caryatides in full relief. The lock, decorated throughout with chasing on gold, has 
a head of Medusa in high relief. Beneath the gun-stock, which is of cherry-wood, 
is a boldly sculptured figure of a dolphin. Above where the barrel joins the 
stock is a beautiful mask of a man's face surmounted by a shell ; and on the 
shoulder-plate of the butt may be seen the three chevrons with a cardinal's hat, the 
armorial insignia of Cardinal Richelieu." 


In Russia the gun-maker's art as most arts was scarcely practised until the 
day of Peter the Great. This enterprising monarch so developed the resources of 
Moscow's arsenal that it not only turned out serviceable weapons for the troops, 
but arms of passing beauty and richness for the Tsar and his nobles. Of the 
former many samples are extant, relics of Poltava and the siege of Troitska, 
when the monks defended their monastery by using these Muscovian flint- 
locks. Of the latter several are carefully guarded in the Kremlin, and a sample of 
these is here shown. Its profuse ornament forbids detailed enumeration ; ivory, 
mother-of-pearl, gold, stones, and stained wood are lavishly bespattered over stock 
and barrel alike. The lock is a clever piece of Russian fretwork, and a queerly cut 
inscription states that the gun was built for the Tsar Alexis Michaelovski in 1654. 
This arm has no less than three band-swivels, and all on the front part of the stock. 
The shape of the barrel is shown in elevation, as are also the back- and fore-sights, 
which are of gold. B is an ordinary old Russian flint-lock, and guns very similar 
may still be bought as usable commodities in the rag markets of Moscow, or the 
annual fairs at Nijni and Irbite ; c represents a more elaborate weapon of 
Muscovian make a Russian wheel-lock rifle it is built after the German style, 
but lacks any shape in the butt. 

Arms with locks on the principle shown in a, but with an octagonal stock 
slightly bent, are still largely in use amongst the Tartars, and are common enough 
at Oranienburg, Russia being far behind Western countries in this respect. Never- 
theless, the arms museums of Russia are without equal for completeness and 
diverse systems both of cannon and small-arms. The Kremlin at Moscow, the 
Monastery of Troitska, the Museum at Tula, and the royal collections of St. 
Petersburg and the Zarskoe Seloe, contain more devices in arms mechanisms than 
would seem conceivable. They have never been properly catalogued, though a 
certain arrangement has been followed. The St. Petersburg collections are rich in 
combined arms and revolving and repeating guns and cannon, all of which however, 
appear to have a greater antiquity than they in reality possess. 

Arms made in Moscow Arsenal. 


The Gun and its Development 


The hand-gun to fire more than one shot at different times appears to have been 
contemporary with the introduction of fire-arms into Europe ; or, at any rate, was in 
use at the same period as the orgues des bovibardes already described. 

The first specimens were simply three- or more barrelled hand-cannon the 
author has never seen a two-barrelled specimen and of these two varieties are 

Multi-barrelled Hand-cannon. 

shown in the above illustration. The three-barrelled weapon has a wooden 
stock, and was intended for use from ramparts. Its date is about 1500, and the 
original drawing is preserved in the Munich State Library. The same MS. shows 
similar arms with four and with six barrels, all with barrels side by side, and one 
with three barrels, two of which are side -by side, the third superposed between 

The five-barrelled gun shown is of about the same date ; the barrels, instead of 
being forged are all cast in one mould, and are of bronze. The fore-sight on the 
middle barrel has a corresponding back-sight immediately behind the touch-hole of 
that barrel, but this is likely to escape notice in the drawing. The same principle 
of construction for the same class of weapon was long continued. In the French 

French Wall Piece. 

The Repeating Matchlock Rifle. 

8o The Gun and jts Development. 

museums are many specimens of flint-lock guns so made, of which the one 
illustrated is typical. 

There are many guns preserved in the museums with double match, wheel, or 
flint locks, in the barrels of which two, three, and sometimes more charges are in- 
serted in the same barrel, one upon the top of the other, and fired in succession. 

The guns in which two charges are placed have generally two separate locks or 
touch-holes, but those capable ot firing more charges have usually a mechanical 
arrangement similar to that shown in the annexed illustration ; which repre- 
sents a matchlock arquebus capable of receiving and firing eight charges in the 
same barrel without reloading. It will be seen that there are eight flash-pans, 
each protected by a hinged cover. The serpentin travels on a notched rack, and is 
brought into contact with the priming of each pan in succession, and fired by 
pressing a corresponding trigger. In loading the gun, each charge is separated 
from the other by two well-fitting leather wads or washers ; but the use of such a 
weapon, if always loaded to its full extent, would be exceedingly dangerous. They 
were not in general use at any time either as military or as sporting weapons. The 
advantages of the repeating principle thus appear to have been observed at an early 
date, and the inventive genius of the gun-maker would have been equal to producing 
weapons of the desired type if only the skill and tools of the workman had allowed 
of a perfect mechanically-fitting joint being obtained. 


The first magazine gun is of comparatively modern date, manufactured undoubt- 
edly in the first years of the seventeenth century at the earliest. The one illustrated 
is of Italian make, and is in the Birmingham Museum, but most public collections 
include one or more specimens. In this weapon the powder for priming and for 
charging the piece is contained loose in separate chambers in the butt, and inserted 
by raising the heel-plate. These chambers communicate with a revolving cylinder 
at the breech-end of the barrel, the axis of which is at right angles to that of the 
barrels. On the under-side of the revolving cylinder is a small aperture, in which 
the bullet is placed ; the cylinder is then turned by the lever on the left side almost 
a complete turn. This movement cuts off and deposits in their respective places 
the proper charge of powder and the priming, closes the pan, and cocks the lock. 
It is, however, necessary whilst so loading the arm, to depress the muzzle, in order 
that the powder in the stock may fall into the rotating cylinder. This weapon bears 
the name of the maker, "Antonio Constantine," but unfortunately the date is 
wanting. It may readily be conceived that, unless the revolving cylinder is 

Early Hand Fjke-Arms. 


accurately fitted, the danger of using such a weapon must be great, the powder in the 
butt (sufficient for six charges) only being separated from the barrel by the revolving 
cylinder, which also acts as a false breech for the barrel ; indeed, the late W. Greener 
states that a pistol of similar construction blew up whilst being experimented with. 
A weapon of like construction to the above is in the Paris Museum; but the bullets, 
instead of having to be inserted each time by the hand, are contained in a recess 
under the breech-end of the barrel, and forced into the cylinder by a spiral spring- 

Italian Magazine Gun. 

In another specimen there are two tubes in the stock for the powder, and it is forty 
shot, instead of six, as in the one shown ; the lever forms the trigger guard, and by 
being moved to the right loads and also cocks the weapon. 

The makers of these weapons appear to have been foreign without exception, and 
chiefly to have issued from Amsterdam, Hanover, and Liege. The peculiar com- 
plication of the various mechanisms, and the general inutility of the weapons them- 
selves, render a detailed description of little value to the inventor or the general 
reader; but the connoisseur will find several varieties in the Paris Museum ; these 
are comprehensively described in the valuable catalogue of the collection. 


Revolving cannon some of large calibre are described in mediaeval manuscripts, 
but these bear little resemblance to that type of arm which has become known 
throughout the civilised world by the name of revolver. 

Before the introduction of the flint-lock various revolving matchlock guns were 
in use. The earliest description is an arquebus with four chambers, a specimen 

82 The Gun and its Dfa'elopment. 

of which is to be seen in the Tower collection, and is supposed to have belonged to 
King Henry VIII. It appears to be of the first half of the sixteenth century. The 
barrel is 2 feet 9 inches long, and the chamber i\ inches, bore about half an inch. 
There is a separate flash-pan for each chamber, covered with a sliding lid, and they 
are moved in succession underneath the serpentin. An end view of the chambers 
is also given. The barrel is fastened to the spindle, and strengthened by a rod 
fastened to its top, with the other extremity fixed to the butt of the gun. The lock 

Revolving Arquebus in the Tower of London. 

mechanism is exceedingly simple, consisting of a serpentin pivoted in the stock, and 
extended below and behind the pivot to form a trigger. By pressing up the trigger 
the serpentin falls into the flash-pan, the weight of the trigger serving to bring it back 
into its place. Several similar weapons of a later date of French and German manu- 
facture are to be found in the Paris Museum. In one a spring is attached to the 
barrel which engages in a stop in the chamber immediately it is in the proper posi- 
tion for firing. The chambers in all cases are moved round by hand. One has 
eight, and another three, and the rest have five chambers. 

In one arquebus of the middle of the seventeenth century the fire is communi- 
cated to the chambers by one flash-pan only, which requires repriming after each 

In the Paris Museum a three-chambered wheel-lock revolving gun is preserved. 
There is but one flash-pan, and the chambers are moved round by the hand after 
each discharge, and are kept in position at the time of firing by a spring button 
placed upon the tail-piece of the barrel. The date of these weapons is about the 
latter end of the seventeenth century. A six-chambered flint-lock pistol of the first 
half of the eighteenth century is also to be found in the same museum. The 
mechanism is similar to that of the preceding weapon, but it is self-priming, the maga- 
zine being fixed to the hammer or striking-piece, and, upon being closed after each 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


discharge, deposits the priming in the flash-pan. The stock is finely carved, 
and ornamented with copper and filigree work. The lock bears the name 
"A. Leotien." 

The German double-chambered revolving gun illustrated is probably unique in 
principle. In addition to the increased speed in firing which would result from the 

Revolving Arms, Russian. 

ten chambers, the chambers, by being made long enough to contain two charges, 
one in front of the other, and fired by separate touch-holes, allowed two shots to be 
fired in very quick succession. As the touch-holes were not covered, it was 


The Gun and its Development. 

necessary to prime afresh each time the chamber was partly revolved. The 
first rotating gun with touch-holes and flash-pans covered by a sliding lid was 
made about 1570 ; the gun shown was probably made at the end of the sixteenth 
century, and certainly prior to 1650. 

In Russia revolving arms of the kind long since discarded in Western Europe 
were used in the last century. The close likeness of the short-barrelled gun to 


Three-barrelled Revolver 

the weapons described by Valturius in the fifteenth century, and already referred to, 
will be at once noticed. The other revolving gun resembles the German weapon 
above described ; but some of these Russian guns were made at so late a date as 
to be provided with nipples for ignition by means of the well-known percussion cap 
of the present period. 

In the Birmingham Museum there is an Italian three-barrelled flint pistol of the 
latter end of the seventeenth century. In this pistol, the three barrels turn round 
upon one common axis, and are brought opposite the flash-pan by the hand. The 
barrels are arranged as shown in the muzzle elevation, which also shows the 
position of the wooden ramrod. 

The pistol is well made, and by an ingenious contrivance the hammer or 
striking-plate closes whilst in the act of cocking. The spring catch for retaining 
the barrels in position at the moment of firing is released by pressing the trigger 
with the cock down. The pistol is neatly ornamented and mounted in chiselled 

Early Band Fire- Arms. 85 

steel, which, together with the shape of the stock, seems to indicate that it is of 
Italian manufacture. In the same museum there is also a revolving gun having 
two barrels, rotating upon a common axis, and each having its own flash-pan and 
hammer. One lock, cock and trigger, however, serves to discharge both barrels, 
they being turned in succession until opposite the cock and in the proper position 
for firing, in which position they are retained by a small spring bolt, moved by a 
stud fixed and working upon the fore-part of the trigger bow. This gun has a gold 

Double Revolving Gun. 

Stamp upon the barrels, a fine scroll trigger, and the stock is beautifully finished 
and carved. From the shape and ornamentation of the gun the date of its manu- 
facture can be fixed as early in the eighteenth century ; it is probably of Milanese 
origin. Several weapons of similar construction are to be found amongst the 
various Continental collections, both private and public. In the Paris Museum 
there is a similar gun, but with four barrels, and two locks and triggers. 

Revolving carbines were made upon the same principle, or with slight modifi- 
cations, during the latter part of the eighteenth century, and various specimens 
are preserved in different English and Continental museums. About 18 10 a 
revolving carbine of unique description was manufactured in England by E. H. 
Collier. It will be seen by the engraving that the lock is placed nearly in the 
centre of the stock, the flash-pan and hammer upon the strap which connects the 
top of the barrel with the butt of the pistol, the touch-hole passing through the 
strap and into the chambers in an oblique direction. The breech is formed as a 


The Gun and its Development. 

cap to the chambers, and in which their breech-ends revolve. This cap, by being 
always in contact with the outside of the chamber, prevents any escape of powder 
at the touch-holes. The chambers are revolved by the hand, but before turning 
they must be drawn backward about one-eighth of an inch, the chambers being 
slightly enlarged at their mouths, and fitting over the taper breech-end of the 
barrel; this ensures the axis of the chamber being true with that of the barrel 
during the discharge. The chambers are forced over the tapered barrel by a flat 
spiral spring working upon the centre pivot, and are held up to their position at the 

Collier's Revolving Carbine. 

moment of discharge by a small horizontal sliding bolt or lever, actuated by the 
trigger immediately it is pulled to fire the weapon. The arm is well made appar- 
ently, the only weak part being the lever holding the chamber up to the barrel 
during the discharge, which is too small to withstand the constant wear and strain of 
firing. The weapon represented has two barrels, interchangeable, one a rifle 
and the other a shot barrel : both are about 24-bore, and 28 inches in length. 
Weapons of similar construction by the same maker are preserved in various 
museums, and this system appears to be the last of note before the introduction of 
percussion weapons. In fact, a few years later specimens of this same weapon with 
self-priming mechanism for percussion ignition are to be found. 


As already stated, it was usual when fire-arms were first introduced to combine 
with the fire-arm some other warlike weapon. These combined arms are most 

Early Hand Fire- Arms. 


varied, and appear to have been made in large numbers. That the idea of com- 
bining a fire-arm with a lethal weapon possesses many attractions to persons of 
inventive genius, if not proved by the many examples of such arms still extant, is 
exemplified by its persistent reiteration in the records of the Patent Office, whence 
a patent for a combined dagger and pistol has just been issued, and by the modern 
advocacy of a pistol-lance as the most suitable German cavalry weapon. 

The fire-arm with axe is the commonest of the combinations and the one most 
widely spread; for the battle-axe here shown is almost identical with the one 
already described and illustrated, which was made in Europe in the fifteenth 

Modern Hindoo Battle-axe. 

century. The particulars or this battle-axe have been furnished by E. A. Elliott, 
Esq., to whose courtesy the author is indebted for the illustration. The axe was 
taken from the Santals, one of the hill-tribes of India. The thickness of metal at 
muzzle is only one-fifth inch, and the weight i lb. ; its length over all is i6|- inches,, 
of which the pistol-barrel takes 8J inches. A primitive type of combined axe and. 
pistol is shown in the next illustration. This arm is of German manufacture.. 
The barrel is 6 inches long and is well concealed by the head of the axe and the 
handle, nearly 2 feet 6 inches long. The weapon is fired by a wheel-lock, and the- 

Pistol Battle-axe 

trigger is fixed near the extremity of the handle farthest from the lock. This: 
weapon was probably intended for horseback use, and manufactured at the com- 
mencement of the. seventeenth century. The pistol battle-axes on the plate are of 
a later date and of a higher class workmanship : all are from the Dresdea 

German Battle-axes in the Dresden Museum. 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


collection, which is particularly rich in arms of this kind and of this period 
perhaps no better collection of wheel-lock arms has yet been brought together. 

The combination of pistol with dagger is by no means rare, and several 
specimens are in the Birmingham collection ; the two illustrated show the chief 
principles employed in effecting the combination. In the earliest, the barrel is in 
the centre of the blade, a muzzle stopper being removed whilst loading and 

Wheel-lock Dagger-Pistol. 

shooting the weapon. The muzzle stopper, upon being replaced, forms the point 
of the dagger. The pistol has a beautiful wheel-lock and an ingenious safety-bolt, 
working upon the left side of the handle ; the lock is discharged by pressing a small 
stud on the handle. The whole pistol is of steel, artistically ornamented, and the 
mechanism neatly and cleverly arranged, as may be seen upon reference to the 
illustration ; the barrel is of Damascus iron. 

The other of these curious weapons represented has the barrel, about 4 inches in 

Dagger-Pistol, Seventeenth Century. 

length, along the side of the dagger blade and is discharged by pressing a small 
trigger in the handle of the weapon. The lock is a modification of the common 
flint-lock, the cock, hammer, and trigger-guard forming the cross of the dagger. 
Similar weapons with pistol on each side of blade are preserved in the same 


The Gun and its Development. 

Another and still later form of the same weapon is also 
shown ; in this last type it will be observed that of the two weapons 
combined in one the pistol is the superior, and the dagger 
blade subordinated to its requirements ; whilst in 
the earlier models the blade was of first import- 
ance, and the fire-arm but subsidiary thereto. 

Sword-pistols of various forms are found in 
most collections, the best, possibly, being that in 
the Berlin Museum. In the Paris Museum there 
is, combined with a 20-inch damascened sword 
blade curved somewhat like that of a sabre a 
short wheel-lock arquebus, the barrel of which forms 
the backbone of the sword ; the lock is placed upon 
the cross-hilt, and the gun is discharged by press- 
ing a small stud in the handle. 

Pistol-pikes are not uncommon ; a musket- 
pike, like the one shown, is more rare. This is 
of the first half of the sixteenth century, and the 
blade affixed to its muzzle is available for both 
thrusting and hacking. In the Tower collection 
there is a " thief-taker " with the usual pike-staff 
and two pistol-barrels, one on each side, projecting 
at an angle of 45, about midway on the staff. 
The trigger is near the lower end of the staff, 
and is connected by a rod with the lockwork, 
which is arranged near the breech ends of the 
pistol-barrels. A combination ^of gun and 
cross-bow was by no means uncommon in 
Germany, and various combinations of fire-arms 
with other weapons are occasionally met with, 
but they were not made in sufficient quantities 
to become general, which, indeed, would have 
defeated the object they were constructed for ; 
and although they will always be regarded as 
great curiosities, the subject is not of sufficient 
importance to render further details of any 
^Tr^''"[!f" ^u '?^^'^.^^^^'' practical utility. 

Eighteenth Century. ^ -' 

Musket- Pike. 

Early Hand Fjre-Arms. 91 

concealed arms. 

Before the introduction of fire-arms, concealed arms for projecting missiles were 
extremely rare, but in the Museum of Arms at Birmingham there is a small curious 
cross-bow of the early part of the fifteenth century intended so to be used. It is 
about 10 inches in length, and constructed wholly of iron ; the bow is double and 
set by a fast-travelling screw ; it is released by a small stud, which acts in the same 
manner as the triggers of a large arbalist. This singular weapon, when not armed, 
lies in a sufficiently small compass to be easily concealed in the folds of a 
cloak or tunic. Its range cannot have been very great, and it was probably 
constructed to serve the ends of some private assassin. With the introduction 
of portable fire-arms, concealed weapons became more numerous ; the surprise oc- 
casioned by the sudden discharge of a volley of unknown weapons caused more 
consternation and confusion than could have been gained by the actual killing or 
wounding power of the weapons themselves. 

A purse, or sporran, of peculiar construction is preserved in the Museum ot 
Edinburgh. It consists of an ingenious combination of the ordinary Highland 
sporran with a small flint-lock pistol hidden in the interior of the purse ; by turning 
a succession of metal studs and buttons, when closing the purse, the trigger of the 
pistol is brought into connection with the clasp, so that anyone unacquainted with 
the mechanical arrangement endeavouring to open the purse would cause the pistol 
to fire, with the possibility of wounding the intermeddler, or at any rate ot 
considerably startling him, and perhaps causing him to relinquish the purse entirely, 
as a remarkably " uncanny " article. The connection between the clasp of the 
sporran and the pistol-trigger is broken by reversing the action of the mountings, 
but which would appear bewildering to any person unaware of their purport. The 
date of this sporran is placed about the seventeenth century, but Sir Walter Scott, 
in " Rob Roy," makes his hero the possessor of a similar sporran ; the idea it is said 
having originated upon Sir Walter Scott seeing the above weapon in the Museum 
during a visit. The following extract from " Rob Roy " gives a good description of 
this purse : 

"A tall, strong mountaineer, who seemed to act as Macgregor's lieutenant, brought from some 
place of safety a large leather pouch, such as Highlanders of rank wear before them when 
in full dress, made of the skin of the sea-otter, richly garnished with silver ornaments and studs. 

" ' I advise no man to attempt opening this sporran till he has my secret,' said Rob Roy ; 
and then twisting one button in one direction, and another in another, pulling one stud upward 
and pressing another downward, the mouth of the purse, which was bound with massive silver 
plate, opened and gave aldmittance to his hand. He made me remark, as if to break short the 
subject on which Bailie Jarvie had spoken, that a small steel pistol was concealed within the 


The Gujv and its Development. 

purse, the trigger of which was connected with the mounting, and made part ot the machinery ; 
so that the weapon would certainly be discharged, and in all probability its contents lodged in the 
person of anyone who, being unacquainted with the secret, should tamper with the lock which 
secured his treasure, ' This,' said he, touching the pistol, 'is the keeper of my privy purse.' " 

A weapon of unique character is the pistol-shield preserved in the Tower. It is 
known that these were made in the reign of Henry VIII., and twenty-one specimens, 
all identical, still remain. They are circular in form, and have a breech-loading 
matchlock pistol fixed in or near the centre ; the system adopted for loading 




consists of a block hinged upon each side of the barrel : it is raised up for 
the insertion of a loaded thimble or steel chamber. The match was affixed to a 
serpentin attached to a rod stapled to the interior of the shield, which was depressed 
by the hand into the flash-pan upon the top to ignite the charge. The mechanism 
will be more readily understood by a reference to the illustration 2, which shows the 
breech of the barrel ; i is the exterior view of the shield ; and 3, the steel thimble 
or chamber. According to Hentzner, who noticed these shield-pistols during his 
visit to England in 1598, each pistol possessed four movable thimbles or chambers 
for loading and inserting in the barrel. There is a small barred aperture near 

Early Band Fire- Arms. 


the top of each shield through which an aim may be taken, and being bullet-proof, 
they afford ample protection to the shooter from the missiles of his adversaries. 
These shields are enumerated in the inventory of King Edward VI. as target-shields 
with guns, and this, combined with their shape and size, should betoken that 
they were made about the first half of the sixteenth century. 

Another species of concealed arm is a whip-pistol, of which there is a fine 

Brigand's Whip-Pistol. 

specimen in the Birmingham Museum, having formerly belonged to a notorious 
Neapolitan brigand. The barrel is concealed in the whip stock, and runs its whole 
length, about 1 2 inches. The lock, a small flint and hammer one, is concealed by 
the ornamental tassels or fringe in front of the handle; it has a secret trigger. 

The use of such weapons, however, w^as not confined to brigands and outlaws, 
for during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the postillions of the French 
mail coaches travelling south of Lyons were all supplied with similar whip-pistols, 
specimens of which are preserved in the Paris Museum. 


The early gun-makers, when constructing guns for notable personages, frequently 
tried to produce weapons quite different to the ordinary type ; for instance, the 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 95 

peculiarly shaped barrel of the hunting carbine of Louis XIII. As shown in the 
illustration, the barrel is apparently composed of irregular tubes joined together. 
The object of so forming the barrel which form is intended to represent the 
Aeur-de-lys of France was meant as a delicate flattery to Louis. The bore is 
about |-inch from groove to groove, and the length of barrel about 4 feet 6 

Several extraordinary weapons were made for the first Napoleon. The one 

Nock's Seven-barrelled Carbine, 

illustrated is a poly-grooved sporting carbine, double-barrelled, the barrels revolving 
on a common centre, and each carrying its own flash-pan and hammer. The shape 
of the butt is peculiar, and the ornamentation only ordinary. The barrel is con- 
siderably shorter than that of the carbine of Louis XIIL, although heavier; the 
bore is about |-inch. 

The Indian musket is the weapon presented to King George, when Prince of 
Wales, by an Indian Rajah ; a very fine specimen of Eastern workmanship, heavily 
jewelled and highly decorated. This gun has been exhibited in most of the art 
galleries of the United Kingdom, and may be taken as fairly representing the 
Eastern sportsman's idea of what a gun should be. 

The Chinese and Japanese more particularly the latter^ are now manufacturing 
fire-arms resembling the models purchased in Europe. An original weapon is 
illustrated for comparison with early European fire-arms. The similarity may be 
taken either as convincing proof that fire-arms originated in the East or as further 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 97 

evidence of the fact that most ideas are common to the human race, and not to any 
particular nation. 

Many people may be surprised that so recently as 1807 J. Nock, the renowned 
London gun-maker, made for the British Government a shoulder gun of the same 
principle as the multi-barrelled cannon of the fourteenth century. It consisted, as 
shown, of seven round barrels brazed together, and fired from the same touch-hole, 
all the barrels being fired, practically simultaneously, but actually in very rapid 
succession. The bore is 20, length of barrels 28 inches ; the weapon is very 
heavy and unwieldy. It is fitted with sights and top-ribs, but the barrels are not 


Pistols, as distinct from the smallest of hand-cannon, are understood to have 
been made for the first time at Pistoia, Italy, from which town they receive 
their name. Caminelleo Vitelli is the accredited inventor, and he flourished 
in 1540. 

As at first manufactured, the true pistols had short barrels and heavy, clumsy 
butts, nearly at right angles with the barrel, and surmounted by enormous balls or 

Italian Dagg, 

caps. In a short time, however, the pattern changed, the butts being lengthened 
out, and almost in a line with the barrels. To all these early pistols the wheel-lock 
was the most applicable, and consequently the majority of the pistols of the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are found so fitted. Short, heavy pistols, called 
" daggs," were in common use about the middle of the seventeenth century. In 
some cases the butts were of ivory, bone, or hard wood, in others of iron or metal. 
There were various patterns in use, but the one illustrated will convey an idea of 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 99 

the general appearance of ihis weapon ; a chiselled Italian dagg manufactured by 
one of the Comminazzo family about 1650. The barrel is slightly bell-nosed, 
about eight inches in length, and 14-bore. There is also a safety-bolt affixed on 
the right-hand side of the weapon, which is entirely of metal. 

The wheel-lock pistols of German manufacture were used also for military 
purposes by the Ritters ; these, with their balled stocks, so well known to 
frequenters of arms museums, were apparently built for Grafs and Dukes, and 
ornamented so profusely that photography alone can adequately reproduce the 
beauty of their intricate details. For chiselling, carving, and Schnittwerke they 
cannot be surpassed : the designs are originally conceived and admirably executed. 
The interior work is likewise good, especially that of the smiths, but the finish 
would now be considered rough. 

Duelling, whenever and wherever in vogue, has caused the production of 
weapons most accurately made and reliable at twenty paces, good specimens of the 
gun-makers' craft at their date of manufacture. The pattern of pistol seldom varied, 
and for exterior appearance and handling the duelling pistol of to-day is the same as 
that of last century. The specimen shown on page 100, a very good one of its class, 
was recendy in the author's hands. It has figured in several memorable contests, the 
best-known encounter being that between His Royal Highness the Duke of York 
and the Honourable Colonel Lennox in 1789. The little meeting took place on 
Wimbledon Common, and His Royal Highness, who did not fire, lost a curl by his 
adversary's shot. The accuracy of this pistol is equal to that of more modern ones, 
the same principle of a heavy bullet and a small charge of powder being em- 

Pistols with metal hafts were common in the seventeenth and eighteenth 
centuries ; some very beautiful specimens were made in Edinburgh, Highlanders 
preferring them to those of the ordinary type, as, with the blue metallic stock and 
silver mountings, they matched better the ornaments of the Highland costume. 

In the double pistol v/ith barrels under and over, the trigger mechanism is the 
chief peculiarity, as it serves to discharge both locks. The trigger is pivoted 
vertically; an inclined plane on the right tumbler forces the trigger under the left 
scear, when the right tumbler has been let down ; on the tumbler being raised, a 
spring forces the trigger beneath the right scear. It is necessary to remove the 
pres'sure of the finger upon the trigger before the second barrel can be discharged, 
in the same manner as with a double-action revolver, but the pistol trigger does not 
require so much travel. This method of constructing guns is advocated in a 
German book on gun-making. 


Highland PistoL 


Double Pistol with Single Trigs,'ci- 

Double Horse-pistol of the Sixteenth Century 

I02 The Gun and its Development. 


It is surprising how few specimens of early double-bar- 
relled guns are known. It seems that when fire-arms were 
first introduced, although the multiplication of cannon upon 
one carriage, shaft, or stand was commonly resorted to, two 
barrels were seldom, if ever, employed. For this the author 
can offer no adequate explanation. The first successful 
double-guns were built with the barrels 
over and under, and not side by side, 
and certainly not until after the intro- 
duction of the wheel-lock into Italy. 
The first inventor of this double gun 
appears to be one Giuliano Bossi, of 
Rome, who in 1616 wrote describing the 
qualities and advantages of the double 
arms of his design. 

The pistol illustrated fully explains 
itself, as the weapon was so formed as to 
shoot with either barrer uppermost, and 
was only the crude idea of a double- 
barrelled fire-arm. Towards the middle of 
the sixteenth century, wheel-lock carbines 
with two barrels, one over the other, were 
made in Germany. The barrels turned 
upon a common axis, and were fired by 
a separate or common lock, as already 
illustrated : this was the invention of Bossi, 
In the Tower of London there is 
preserved an early double fire-arm of the 
commencement of the seventeenth cen- 
tury. It is a long double pistol, in which 
the barrels are placed side by side. It is 
an early specimen of the wheel-lock, and 
the shape of the stock or handle is re- 
markable. The weapon appears to have 
STemeemhCemury! been intended for sporting purposes. It 

Italian Double Gun. 

Early Hand Fire-Arms. 


is ornamented with brass, and has barrels about eighteen inches in length. These 
two weapons are clumsily made, and unwieldy ; not so, however, is the pretty little 
Italian arquebus illustrated on page 102. This handy little weapon appears to have 
been manufactured for solely sporting purposes, and is undoubtedly one of the earliest 
double sporting guns with the barrels side by side. It is a wheel-lock arquebus of 
about the middle of the seventeenth century. It is beautifully ornamented with 
chiselled copper mountings : the barrels are nicely finished, both at the breech 
and muzzles, and the flash-pans are also of copper. The barrels are about twenty- 
two inches long and half-inch bore, but the name of the maker is wanting. A 
similar gun, but of a considerably later date, is preserved in the Paris Museum, and 
bears the name of Berch. 

Breech-loading Arquebus of King Henry VIII. 

Double shot-guns do not appear to have been in general use until the present 
century. In 1784 they were so new that Dr. Aikins deemed it worth while to write 
and publish a description of them. Joseph Manton is thought to have been the first 
man to unite the barrels with a rib ; but the success of the double gun was more 
directly due to the lighter weight which better material and higher class workman- 
ship made possible. 


One of the earliest breech-loading hand-guns is to be found in the Tower of 
London, in the specimen cherished as the hunting arquebus of Henry VIII. The 
above illustration represents this curious weapon. It is a matchlock arquebus, 


The Gun and its Development. 

and bears the letters " H. R." and the date 1537. The system of loading is similar 
to the Snider breech-action. The breech-block is, however, hinged on the left side, 
and opens from the right to left. The charge is put in a small steel thimble or 
chamber, which has a false flash-pan and touch-hole in one side that fits into the 
flash-pan upon being placed in the chamber. The shape and comparative size of 
the movable chamber are shown in the engraving at b, and in section at e. a is the 
breech-block, c the Royal arms, d the King's initials, and f shows the mechanism 
of the lock. It will be seen that a rod actuating a lever to the flash-pan cover is 
affixed to the scear, so that upon the scear being raised the cover sUdes from over 
the flash-pan. This weapon is probably of French manufacture. The armourer's 

Early German Breech-loader. 

mark is d^fleur-de-lys surmounted by the letters " W. H." It has also stamped on the 
breech a crowned rose supported by two lions. The barrel is fluted and about 
3 ft. 6 in. in length. 

Another breech-loading arquebus was in common use in Germany during the 
earlier half of the sixteenth century. In this gun, represented with its movable 
chamber, the barrel is enlarged to take a steel thimble and breech-block in one ; 
the thimble having an elongated tail or handle to allow of its being easily moved 
in or out of the chamber. The thimble is retained in the barrel during the 
discharge by a cotter pin passing through the barrel, the base of the thimble, and 
the stock, firmly wedging the whole together, and similar to the German breech- 
loading cannon shown on page 37. 

Henry IV. of France is said to have invented a similar breech-loader, with 
which some of the French troops were armed during his reign. 

The next distinct type of breech-loading arm was of French invention and 

Early Band Fire-Arms. 


made about the middle of the seventeenth century; it was called the ^^ Amusetfe du 
Marechal de Saxe." It was usually made as a wall-piece, but a few were also 
manufactured as carbines for use by the dragoons. By turning the trigger-guard 
the breech-plug was caused to open, the block consisting of a cylindrical plug. 
The charge was placed in loose, cartridges not being employed by the French at 
that time. It was soon discarded, on account of the great danger in manipulating 
the weapon, for the friction was so great that the gun frequently went off before 
the breech-plug was returned to its place. 

Early Breech-loading Flint-lock Pistol. 

During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries breech-loading arms were 
very numerous and of greatly diversified mechanism ; it will therefore be in the 
compass of this work to describe and illustrate a few of them only. Wheel-lock 
arquebuses on the drop-down system were manufactured in the second half of the 
sixteenth century, but in most of these early arms breech-plugs and fixed barrels 
E ^ 

io6 The Gun and its Development. 

were employed. In many instances the charge is placed in the breech-block, and 
not in the barrel itself. 

For sporting weapons breech-loaders of curious forms have been made, and 
generally on the drop-down system. It was not until after the introduction of the 
flint-lock that any inventions now valuable were produced. Amongst these early arms 
the one on the drop-down plan, as shown, is most worthy of detailed description. 

It is a very long-barrelled pistol, probably of Italian manufacture about the 
middle of the sixteenth century. The barrel drops on a hinged joint, to allow of 
the insertion of the charge in a movable steel chamber. It is retained in its 
position for firing by a catch on the top of the false breech, and actuated by a 
spring trigger in front of the lock trigger. The similarity that this weapon bears to 
the breech-action of that introduced by the late J. H. Walsh, Esq., has been noted 
by some of the readers of the Field, who commented upon the hinged joint and the 
barrel falling at right angles to the stock, which peculiarities were supposed to have 
belonged to Mr. Walsh's gun only. A gun similar to this one is preserved in the 
Edinburgh Museum, except that the barrel is retained in position by a sliding bolt, 
and not by a spring catch. 

Such guns in which the barrels drop at right angles to the stock are not 
rare. There are several in the Continental collections, and some are illustrated 
in various parts of this treatise. One, which possesses also an extended top rib 
and top cross-bolt which is moved by the hand, is shown on page 107. This gun 
which appears to have been considerably used is still sound and in working order. 
Both the fastenings the hook and the hinge being placed behind the joint, 
the breech has been kept close and firm. No cartridge was used in this gun, but the 
charge was inserted in the rigid breech-end of the barrel, and not in the movable 
fore-part. The top cross-bolt is shown detached (half-sizej, and the position of the 
barrel when open is indicated by the dotted lines. 

The next figure illustrates an Italian flint-lock gun, the mechanism of which is 
the best made of any the author has noticed amongst the arms of the seventeenth 
century. It is by the celebrated Aqua Fresca k Borgia, and bears the date of 1694. 
By pressing the guard a catch under the barrel is released, and, the barrel being 
pivoted vertically, a lateral motion may be given to the barrel, which swings open 
horizontally, as shown in the illustration. The charge, contained in a steel tube, 
may then be introduced, and the barrel returned to its position. By a system of 
wheels the gun primes itself, the powder being placed in the magazine afiixed to the 
hammer. The butt is hollowed to contain a bullet-mould, and the whole weapon is 
nicely finished, the mountings being of chiselled steel. 

Italian Flint-lock Breech-loader. 


The Gun and its De\^'elopment. 

During the eighteenth century breech-loading flint-guns were made in which the 
barrel or barrels revolved on a common axis, as shown on page 85, a space 
being cut from the side of the arm to allow of the insertion of the cartridges. In 
single-barrelled weapons the barrel was usually pivoted on a centre considerably 
below the axis of the barrel, so that upon the barrel being turned over to the right 
or left it was thrown clear of the stock. The barrel \vas kept in position for firing by 
means of a spring stud or catch entering into the barrel from the false breech. 

A breech-loading carbine, known as the Fergusson rifle, was used in the 
American War of Independence, and is here illustrated. It is the first breech- 
loading carbine ever used by a regularly organised British corps, and is the 

Fergusson Breech-loading RiHe. 

invention of Patrick Fergusson, Major, 2nd Batt. 71st Regt. Highlanders, who 
constructed it some time previous to 1776. It is a flint-lock, and sighted from 
100 to 500 yards. The breech mechanism consists of a three- to twelve-thread 
vertical screw plug, passing through the breech-end of the barrel. This screw plug 
is attached to the trigger-guard, which, when turned, sinks the screw plug, leaving 
an aperture in the top of the barrel for the insertion of the cartridge or charge. 
The screw is then raised by replacing the guard, and the aperture leading to the 
barrel chamber thereby closed. 

Another type of breech-loader is that of Mr. Theiss, of Nuremberg. In this 

Earlv Hand FiJiE-A/iMs. 


arm the stock is hollowed immediately behind the breech of the barrel to admit of 
the charge being introduced, the barrel being closed by a vertically sliding breech- 
block, actuated by a button attached to a lever under the barrel in front of the 
guard. When pushed upwards by the button, a hole in the breech-block is in a 

The Theiss Breech-loading Gun. 

line with the axis of the barrel. Through this aperture the cartridge is pushed 
into the chamber of the barrel, which is closed by knocking down the breech-block. 

John H. Hall's American Breech-loading Carbine. 

The weapon is a fliat-lock, and was manufactured in Germany about 1804, but 
was discontinued owing to the large escape of gas at the breech. 

no The Gun and its Development. 

Another type of flint lock breech-loading arm is the next illustrated on page 109. 
It was the invention of an American, who afterwards made arms on the interchange- 
able system for the United States Government. In this arm the breech-block itself 
is loaded, the flash-pan, hammer, and cock all being arranged in or upon the 
movable block. After loading, the block is depressed and kept in position for 
firing by a spring catch working under the barrel; the block is hinged similarly 
to that of the Martini, but moves upwards instead of downwards. 

This action may be considered a fair sample of that generally employed in 
old wall-pieces, though the modifications are so numerous that only a cursory 
notice of them would fill a volume. As muzzle-loaders, wall-pieces, on account of 

Manton's Flint-lock Muzzle-loader. 

the length of their barrels, were most difficult to load, so that more breech-loading 
wall-pieces than early breech-loading small-arms were made. In some cases cart- 
ridges were used which were placed in the barrel itself or in the breech-block. 
Rigid barrels and movable blocks appear to have been the principle on which 
most of them were constructed. 

The highest development of the flint-lock was not applied to breech-loaders, nor 
yet to military muzzle-loaders, but is found only in the best fowling-pieces, particu- 
larly those made by Joseph Manton early in the nineteenth century. The above 
illustration is of a typical weapon, and represents a Manton double-gun with the 
patent gravitating stops on the outside of the lock-plate. They fell, by their own 
weight, whenever the gun was in a perpendicular position, and locked the hammers 
automatically, securing them whilst the gun was being loaded and the charges 
rammed down. 

The Percussion Sys tem. i i i 



The main appreciable difiference between ordinary explosive and a fulminate consists 
in the amount of percussion required to produce explosion and the difference in the 
rapidity of the explosion. Ordinary black gunpowder and some nitro-compounds 
may be ignited by percussion between steel or other metal faces, but the explosion 
so produced is not appreciably more rapid or violent than if ignition is produced by 
the simple application of fire. A fulminate, on the contrary, is most readily ignited 
by percussion, and so exploded exerts greater force in less time than if fired by 
other means. The qualities of the fulminates and various mixtures used in 
connection with fire-arms are briefly enumerated in the chapter on " Modern 
Explosives"; here an attempt is made to show how certain of them came to be 
employed for igniting the powder charges in fire-arms, and in what way the fulminate 
has been applied to the purpose. 

Chlorate of potash is probably the best-known fulminate ; mixed with powdered 
glass, it is one of the most sensitive detonating mixtures used in connection with 
fire-arms. Used as a substitute for the nitrate of potash in gunpowder, or as an 
additional ingredient, it changes the product into fulminating powder a much more 
violent and dangerous explosive, and an unstable one. In England no mixture 
containing chlorate of potash and sulphur is now allowed to be manufactured, 
although the Patent Ofiice continues to afford protection to numerous explosive 
mixtures into the composition of which these ingredients enter. Many accidents 
occurred during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with gunpowders so made 
notably in 1788 to Berthollet, the famous French chemist. Other percussion 
powders are derived from the fulminates of mercury, silver, gold, platinum, etc. 

The first researches for these powders appear to have been made by Peter 
Bolduc, a Frenchman, at a date anterior to 1700. In the reports of the Royal 
Academy of Sciences from 17 12 to 17 14 notices are given of the experiments ot 
Nicholas Lemery iri the same direction. Nothing of great importance appears to 
have been arrived at by either of these personages, but in 1774 Bayen, chief army 

112 The Gun and its Development. 

physician to Louis XV., discovered fulminate of mercury, and made known its 
explosive properties ; but there was no idea, even at that time, of applying 
fulminates in any way whatever to fire-arms ; indeed, it was not until after the 
discoveries of Fourcroy in 1785, of Vauquelin in 1787, and of Berthollet in 1788, 
that an attempt was made to provide a substitute for saltpetre in gunpowder by the 
use of chlorate of potash. 

Berthollet, the famous chemist and experimentalist, essayed in vain to effect 
this ; and, after two successive explosions cruel evidences of the terrible force of 
the new salts he desisted, although not entirely relinquishing his researches, as he 
studied the fulminates, and discovered fulminate of silver. Immediately this ful- 
minate became known, endeavours were made to use it in pyrotechnical displays, 
and after a few trials it was applied to fire-arms, but did not answer effectually ; its 
extreme sensitiveness, and the great care required in handling and using it, rendered 
it most unsuitable for pyrotechnical purposes. 

Scientific persons then endeavoured to combine with the fulminate of silver 
other combustible ingredients that would render it less sensitive, such as a mixture 
of chlorate of silver and sulphur, iodate of potass with sulphur, ammoniates of gold, 
platinum, silver, etc. 

In 1800 an Englishman named Howard, after a study of the experiments of 
Vauquelin and Fourcroy, essayed to manufacture a fulminate composed of fulminate 
of mercury and saltpetre. This powder was extremely sensitive, possessed all the 
requisite qualities of a priming powder, and was for years known as Howard's 

The most notable invention in connection with the application of fulminates to 
fire-arms was then discovered. According to the Patent Office Records, the Rev. 
Alexander John Forsyth, LL.D., a Scotch clergyman, and for fifty-two years 
minister of Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, is the person to whom the honour of inventing 
the percussion system is awarded; his letters patent, dated April nth, 1807, 
describe the application of the detonating principle for exploding gunpowder in 
fire-arms, etc. Various modes of applying the same to ordnance are shown. The 
validity of this patent was disputed in the case of " Forsyth v. Reveiere," tried in 
the King's Bench, June 4th, 18 19, in which it transpired that other persons had 
privately used a similar invention before the date of the patent which, however, 
was established ; the Judge (Abbot, L.C.J.) ruling that if several persons simul- 
taneously discover the same thing, the party first communicating it to the public is 
the legal inventor, and entitled to the protection of letters patent. When Lord 
Moira was Master-General of Ordnance (1806), Mr. Forsyth, at his request, carried 

The Percussion System. 113 

out some experiments in the Tower of London, with a view to the application of 
the detonating system to existing arms ; but the experiments did not culminate in 
the immediate adoption of the invention, and, after a few months, Mr. Forsyth 
returned to Belhelvie and resumed his pastoral duties, not further engaging with 
gunnery. His inactivity with respect to his clever invention led to his patent being 
evaded by many persons. The fulminating mixtures he made use of are thus 
described in the specification of his patent : 

" I do make use of some one of the compounds of combustible matter, such as sulphur or 
sulphur and charcoal, with an oxymuriatic salt; for example, the salt formed of dephlogisticated^ 
marine acid and potash (oxymuriatic of potassium), or of fulminating metallic compounds, as 
fulminate of mercury or of common gunpowder, mixed in due quantity with any of the afore- 
mentioned substances, or with an oxymuriatic salt as aforesaid." 

With regard to the manner of ignition the specification reads : 

" Instead of permitting the touch-hole, or vent, of the species of artillery, fire-arms, mines, 
etc., to communicate with the open air, and instead of giving fire by a lighted match, or flint or 
steel, or by any other matter in a state of actual combustion, applied to a priming in an open 
pan, I do so close the touch-hole or vent by means of a plug or sliding-piece as to exclude 
the open air, and to prevent any sensible escape of the blast, or explosive gas or vapour, 
outwards, or from the priming or charge; and, as much as it is possible, to force the said 
priming to go in the direction of the charge, and to set fire to the same, and not to be wasted in 
the open air." 

/ The charge was fired by a plunger working in a hole having communication with 
the charge, at the bottom of which a small quantity of the detonating mixture had 
been previously placed. The rod was struck by a cock, or, in artillery, by means of 
a hammer. 

The success of the principle was soon observed, notwithstanding the clumsy and 
often inefificient inventions which were adopted in order to apply it to existing types 
of guns. Nor can the value of the invention be too highly appreciated, since to it 
is due the modern method of igniting powder charges in all small-arms. 


The mechanical means by which Forsyth's system of ignition was utilised were 
very numerous ; a few only need be mentioned. The original patent specified a 
magazine turning on a roller or tube screwed into the breech of the gun ; the 
fulminating powder was deposited in the roller, the magazine was restored to its 
position, and the cock struck on a pin with a spiral spring attached, which pin 
reached and ignited the powder. Various improvements were made by those 


The Gun and its Development. 

engaged by the patentee to produce for him ; the gun-makers also adopted the prin- 
ciple, whilst varying the mechanism by which it was applied, and when the patent 
had been in use some years many makers had their own particular mechanisms 
licensed by the patentee. 

In 1808 a Genevan gun-maker named Pauly, practising in Paris, invented a 
percussion breech-loading gun, in which a fulminating paper cap was 'affixed to 
the breech of the cartridge. Upon pulling a trigger, a needle pierced the cap, and 
thus ignited the charge. It was from this gun that the Lefaucheux breech- 
loader was subsequently developed. 

In 181 2 this same Pauly invented a percussion gun, in which the hammer, 

The Westley-Richards Detonating Gun. 

cock, and flash-pan were dispensed with, all being replaced by a small piston, 
actuated by a spiral spring, striking a nipple upon which a few grains of fulminate 
were placed. 

Numerous inventions between 1807 and 1825 relate to self-priming guns, 
and the systems are greatly varied ; sometimes the fulminate was enveloped in 
paper or metallic covers, and in others the powder was simply rolled into small pills 
or pellets. In 1821 Westley-Richards invented a percussion gun which ignited with 
either the simple detonating powder, the paper caps, the pellets, or the balls. 

The cock strikes into the flash-pan, which is covered with a pivoted lid actuated 
by a spring. The falling of the hammer causes the cover to move from over the 
pan by its breast pressing against an extremity of a pivoted lever, whose other 

The Percussion System. 


extremity is connected with and actuates the pan-cover. The touch- or communica- 
tion-hole is situated in the bottom of the pan, arid enters the barrel in an oblique 
direction. A small peg is screwed through the cock-nose so that the point of the 
peg falls into the centre of the pan, which is concave, and thus renders the percus- 
sion more certain. 

Many similar systems were used and patented between 1812 and 1825. The 
chief systems were those of Egg, Wilkinson, Lancaster, Lang, and Westley-Richards. 
The accompanying illustration shows a it^ of the numerous detonators ; many 
others existed but a very short time, and were not extensively used. No. i repre- 
sents the paper cap, the fulminate being placed between two small pieces of paper. 
No. 2 is a priming-tube, the one end being inserted in the touch-hole and the other 


struck by the cock. No. 3 is a musket percussion-cap. No. 4 is the Westley- 
Richards primer. This consisted of a priming-tube with flanges affixed to it. The 
tube was inserted in the nipple, the flanges preventing it being driven in altogether 
when struck by the cock. No. 5 is a friction-tube, as used for firing cannon. It is 
placed in the touch-hole and by pulling a string attached to the ring in the cross- 
arm the required friction to ignite the fulminate within the tube is obtained. 

The copper cap was the latest and best form of percussion ignition. Many 
persons claim to have invented it ; among them the gun-makers Egg and Manton. 
Wilkinson states that Egg purchased it of Roantree, a gun-maker of Barnard Castle, 
but that it was actually first used in 18 14 by a Mr. Joshua Shaw, of Philadelphia, 
who, at that time, put the fulminate in a steel cap, which, after use, he kept for the 
purpose of repriraing. The next year he employed a pewter cap, which he threw. 


The Gun and its Development. 

away after using, and in 1816 used a similar cap of copper, exactly as used on per- 
cussion muzzle-loaders forty years later. 
Colonel Hawker says respecting it : 

" The copper cap is now in general use all over the world, and therefore many gun-makers 
attempt to claim its invention as their own. I do not mean to say that I was the inventor of it 
probably not ; but this I must beg leave to state : When Joe (Manton) first brought out his 
detonator in Davies Street, he made the most perfect gun I ever saw ; and doubting whether 
such another could be got, I set my wits to work in order to simplify the invention. At last the 
plan of a perforated nipple, and the detonating powder in the crown of a small cap, occurred to 
me. I made a drawing of it, and took it to Joe. After having explained it, he said he would 
show me something in a few weeks' time, when, lo and behold ! there was a rough gun altered 
to precisely my own plan his factotum, poor old Asell, informing me that the whole job was 
done from my drawing. Thus Joe, who led the fashion for all the world, sent out a few copper-cap 
guns, and I know with some degree of reluctance. The trade, finding he had then deviated 
from his own patent, adopted this plan, and it proved to answer so well that we now see it iu 
general circulation." 

Joseph Manton's "Tube" Detonating Gun. 

The reason for Manton's reluctance appears to be that he wished to push 
his own patent tube-gun. In this a metar primer was placed in the touch-hole and 
held there by a spring catch, and exploded by the blow of the cock on the side of 
the tube the fired tube being blown out of the gun by the force of the explosion. 

The late W. Greener used tinned iron caps. Another plan deserving mention 
was that of Baron Heurteloup, who, discovering that a fulminating powder enclosed 
in a tube of soft metal could be cut through without ignition yet detonated if struck 
by a blunt instrument, designed a self-priming gun in which a long tube of detonat- 
ing powder was contained in the stock and moved forward into position by each 

The Percussion System. 117 

fall of the hammer ; the fall also cutting off the fragment of tube required and then 
instantly detonating it by continuing its blow. 

The detonating mixtures used in copper caps and the methods of manufacture 
are described in the chapter on " Explosives." 


The percussion principle of ignition was applied to muzzle- and to breech- 
loading guns. It succeeded first with the muzzle-loader, and it was to this 
principle that the English gun-makers confined their attention. Percussion guns 
were not quickly accepted as military weapons ; the British Government was very 
slow to adopt the principle, and at first many sportsmen would not use the copper- 
cap gun. Old sportsmen chiefly adhered to the flint-lock ; notably that great 
authority. Colonel P. Hawker. When first made, it was a common fault to overload 
the cap; an error which resulted in numerous accidents and serious injuries to 
sportsmen. The metal of the cap was not always of the best quality, was often too 
thin, and had a dangerous way of flying into fragments and scattering in all 
directions when exploded. There was also an idea prevalent that the flint gun shot 
stronger ; a wrong conclusion was formed, but it took years to reverse it in the 
public judgment. 

The ignition given to the charge is certainly more rapid, and there is not the 
violent escape of gas at the nipple as there is at the touch-hole oid^ flint gun. The 
penetration and recoil are therefore proportionately increased. Colonel Hawker 
made several trials between flint and detonating guns, the results showing the 
advantage of the flint system. He thus addressed Joe Manton after this trial : 

" From the result of very many experiments, Colonel Hawker is of opinion that for neat 
shooting in the field or covert, and also for killing single shots at wildfowl rapidly flying, and 
particularly by night, there is not a question in favour of the detonating system, as its trifling 
inferiority to the flint gun is tenfold repaid by the wonderful accuracy it gives in so readily 
obeying the eye. But in firing a heavy charge among a large flock of birds the flint has the 
decided advantage. 

" Moreover, the sudden and additional recoil of a detonator with the full charge for duck- 
gun is apt, if the shooter be not careful, to strike the hand back and give him a severe blow on 
the nose." 

[With the flint-lock in a heavy shower of rain, or a con.tinuous drizzle, it was a 
matter of impossibility to keep the priming-powder dry. VWith detonating paper 
caps and pellets the same difficulty was experienced, and it was not until the 
introduction of the. copper cap that the percussion gun could be considered in 
every way superior to the flint,,^ although the tube detonating gtm of Westley- 


The Gun and its Development. 

Richards, already described, had considerable vogue, and was in use for many 
years. The extreme quickness of fulminate powder, the combustion of which is so 
rapid that its unchecked flame may pass through gunpowder without igniting it, 
brought into general requisition various forms of nipple and the patent breech. 
The latter was invented by Nock in 1787, with the object of getting a front ignition 
of the powder charge. Prior to that date barrels had been made with a plain hut 
or breech-plug, screwed in the end ; by hollowing out this plug so that part at least 
of the charge of powder should be behind the touch-hole. Nock expected to obtain 

Nock's Patent Breech. 

Stronger shooting and avoid the blowing out of the grains of powder by the 
explosion of the rear part of the charge. Sporting guns in those days were of 
small bore 24 or less and the Nock patent breech was advantageous. With the 
early percussion guns there were often misfires, owing to the extreme quickness of 
the fulminate used. Sometimes, too, the charge was started up the barrel by the 
detonator before the powder charge ignited. Much was gained by improvements 
in the fulminate employed, and by diminishing the quantity used. Still more by 
altering the position of the nipple and contracting the flash-hole, so that the flames 
of the cap impinged at that point, and this brief check caused greater heat to be 
generated and secured the immediate firing of the charge. The touch-hole removed 
from the side and then placed upon the top of the breech-plug was a great 
improvement, so far as the performance of the gun was concerned, and, in time, the 

The Percussion Svsteat. 


shape and arrangement of nipple, breech and break-off were altered, until in 1850 
the muzzle-loading percussion gun was a truly elegant weapon. No one did more 
towards effecting this development of type than the late W. Oreener ; a facsimile 
of one of his latest pattern guns is here reproduced, and it may be said, with 
truth, that it accurately represents the highest form of the muzzle-loading sporting 
shot gun. 

W. Greener's Double Muzzle-'.oader ; if 

To facilitate the manipulation of the percussion muzzle-loader various 
mechanisms were subsequently added to the lock mechanism. For instance, 
guns have been fitted with an ingenious arrangement for automatically conveying 
caps from a magazine and placing them in position iifon the nipple by the 
motion of raising the hammer to full cock. In the event of a cap missing 
fire it was necessary only to raise the hammer again and pull the trigger. 
The invention obviated the troublesome fumbling with small caps, but even 
an invention so ingenious could not maintain the popularity of the muzzle-loading 

The sportsman of the twentieth century equipped with a modern gun has but a 
slight conception of the difficulties under which his forefathers laboured when 
shooting with a muzzle-loader, and it is interesting to note the many points of 
superiority possessed by all breech-loaders of to-day, over even the best of the 
percussion muzzle-loading guns. 

A frequent and ever present danger connected with the use of the muzzle-loading 
gun was that of accidental discharge when loading. Then, again, there was the risk, 
with a double-barrelled gun, of over-loading it was no uncommon thing for the 
sportsman to put both charges of powder into the same barrel, sometimes with 

120 The Gun and its Development. 

disastrous results, at least to the gun, if not to the user or his friends. Another 
serious objection was that the ramming down of the charge carried with it the 
damp fouling, and this being forced on to the new load had considerable effect 
upon the powder, which naturally gave but indifferent and irregular results. 

The ramrod was a constant worry, frequently breaking, and at times, when 
occasion arose for a rapid shot, it would be left in the barrel and fired from it by an 
excited sportsman. 

The nipple was undoubtedly the bete noire of the shooter of that time. If too 
hard it broke off, if too soft the point quickly become dubbed up and useless ; 
added to this, misfires were constantly caused through the nipple getting rusty 
or becoming fouled by the previous shots. This was especially the case with guns 
of poor quality. 

The cleaning of the barrels was a troublesome and dirty job. They became so 
fouled that it was frequently necessary to scour them out with boiling water, while 
the passing of the ramrod, when charging or cleaning, up and down the barrels 
dirtied the shooter's hands and clothes. 

Caps were also a regular source of trouble. Many sportsmen would use the 
cheapest caps procurable ; these often failed to explode, or split and flew about 
in a most dangerous fashion, and many were the shooters whose eyes were injured 
by this false economy. 

The breeches soon became fouled and rusted, and could not be removed by 
the sportsmen; in fact, the only way in which the gun-maker could manage to 
unscrew a thoroughly fouled breech was by pouring oil down the barrel, allowing it 
to stand a while, and then placing it in the fire. Some nasty accidents occurred 
when doing this, through omitting to properly withdraw the charge. 

This fixed breech-end permitted careless workmanship to pass undetected. It 
was impossible for the inside of the barrels to be examined, and even in guns 
of medium quality but little attention was given to the boring ; in fact, many 
of the barrels were left with the rough borer's rings in them : they naturally 
became leaded up, and were quickly rendered useless for good shooting. The 
advent of the breech-loader, permitting of closer examination of the interior of the 
barrels, quickly changed this, and the cheapest breech-loader of to-day is superior 
in this respect to many of the best muzzle-loading guns. 

It is a curious fact that nearly all muzzle-loading barrels were made too light at 
the breech (the ramrod weighed from 4 to 5 ounces, and this additional weight has 
been utilised in strengthening the breech-ends of modern gun-barrels). Accidents 
from this unnecessary weakness were of frequent occurrence, but it is worthy of 

The Percussion System, 121 

note that during the author's sixty years' experience only two accidents with breech- 
loaders have resulted in injury to the users of the guns in one case the sportsman's 
thumb was injured, and, in the other, his face. Both these guns were made in the 
early 'sixties ; and when one considers that in spite of the great increase in the 
number of guns now used, and tlie irregularity of, and excessive force exerted 
by, many of the modern smokeless powders serious accidents are but rare, one 
is struck by the great improvement in the manufacture of the modern shot gun, 
which is theoretically and practically perfect. 

The author recalls two serious accidents, in what is now the city of Birmingham, 
with muzzle-loading guns. Both occurred through the falling out of the fore-end 

An Old-time Powder Horn. 

A Shot Flask. 

A Powder Flask. 

bolt, which permitted the barrels to drop down ; the weight of the breech-ends 
caused them to fall nipples downwards, and in both instances the charges were 
exploded with fatal results. 

The sportsman of to-day, with his gun and cartridges, is easily and quickly 
equipped : not so the sportsman of the 'thirties. The nipples of his gun being 
properly cleaned, he had to remember his ramrod, shot pouch or belt, powder flask, 
caps, cap-charger, paper for his wadding, spare nipples and a nipple-key, although 
the latter was useless if the nipples were rusted in. 

The illustration on page 122 shows an old-time sportsman in a typical loading 
position, and the following instructions on how to load a gun are extracted from 

The Gun and its Development: 

W. Greener's book, "The Gun": "Place the butt on the ground or on your foot, 
and incline the muzzle well outwards. When you have to load one barrel only, 

let the loaded barrel be that 
. farthest away. Do not grasp 
the ramrod with the hand, 
but with the thumb and 
forefinger only. Both locks 
should be at half-cock when 
loading. Muzzle-loading caps 
should fit the nipples accu- 
rately, so as not to burst in 
putting on ; they may then be 
taken off easily, but are not 
likely to drop off. If water- 
proofed and capsuled, no ful- 
minate is likely to adhere to 
the head of the nipple and 
cause an accidental discharge. " 
There was unanimity of 
opinion among the early writers 
as to the superiority of the 
muzzle- over the breech-loader. 
The late W. Greener, in his 
book, "Gunnery in 1858," 
speaking of an invention, says : 
" Notwithstanding all the skill 
and ingenuity brought to bear 
upon it, it is, we think, suffi- 
cient to prove that breech- 
loading guns cannot be made sufificiently durable to yield any reasonable return 
for the extra expense and trouble attending their fabrication." 

Colonel Hawker was of the same opinion, and it was only in the last edition of 
his book (1859), which was edited by his son, that the breech-loader received true 

The drawbacks of the muzzle-loading system were increased a hundredfold when 

appHed to rifles, owing to the diflSculty of getting a tight-fitting bullet into the bore. 

The muzzle-loading rifle may be said to have reached its zenith in 1859, 

Correct Position for charging 
Muzzle-loading Gun. 

The Percussion System. 123 

although it is curious that at the Field Trials of that year the shooting of the rifles 
then tested was, even when judged by the standard of that day, exceedingly bad, 
and it is to be regretted that the Whitworth rifle was not entered at these trials, 
ihe mean deviation with this rifle at the Hythe Trials of 1857 being but 4^ inches 
at 500 yards. 

The winning rifle at the Field Trials was shot with but two drams of powder 
and a conical ball weighing i oz 7 drams. This light load of powder was necessary 
with the old system of rifling, as an increased charge would cause the bullet to strip 
and, of course, keyhole. 

The second rifle was made by Smith upon Mr. Purdey's two-grooved plan, and it 
seems probable that if this rifle had been correctly loaded and shot it would have 
secured first place. 

The 200 yards targets used at the Field Trials measured 22 inches by 19 inches, 
and at 100 yards 22 inches by 18 inches, and the average deviation from the 
centre made with the winning rifle at 200 yards was 7f inches, and at 100 yards 
2\ rnches. 

At this time the author was occupied with the manufacture of the Cape 
Rifles, more fully described elsewhere (rifled upon a similar principle to the 
Purdey Express), with which it was no uncommon thing to put six shots in a 
3-inch circle at 100 yards. Unfortunately, as these rifles were being made for 
another firm, the author was not permitted to enter them at the trial. 

Mr. jernigan, in his interesting book on China, says : 

"The Miaotzu sportsman generally makes or helps to itiake such a gun as he wished 
to use, not only the lock, stock and barrel, but his ammunition as well. He first provides 
the necessary quantity of good scrap iron and charcoal, builds a forge near his house and 
erects a light shed of mats or branches over it, and then invites some famous smith of the 
district to come and forge the barrels for the intended gun. This is done by welding the 
scrap iron into several bars, each about i-in. broad and \-'\n. thick. Each of these bars 
is then coiled spirally on a small mandril and afterwards welded into as many cylinders or 
tubes, each about one foot long. These tubes are joined together by welding end to end, 
and thus united form the barrel of the gun, which is a twist barrel of good material and 

"The barrel is now fastened by wedging into a log of timber, the muzzle end downwards, 
and bored out by hand with square steel rimmers. These rimmers are made of different 
lengths and diameters, and have a wood cross-bar at the top which is turned slowly and 
steadily until the wholfe length of the gun-barrel has been bored out in a uniform and 
satisfactory manner. The work may occupy months of the shooter's spare time, but when 
finished the long barrel has been bored true and straight and smooth, and he has the 
satisfaction of knowing that his gun was built directly under his own supervision and 


The Gun and its Development. 

The breech is closed by welding a prepared plug of iron 

materially with his own hands 

"The barrel is mounted on a pistol stock, fitted with a spring cock and trigger, and 
fastened on the outside of the stock near the breech, the barrel being fastened to the 
stock by movable thin silver bands, each from a half to one inch in width." 

'One can well understand the 
backwardness of these sportsmen 
when reading later that 

" The Chinese sportsman of the present 
day is in every essential equipment as far 
behind the Western sportsman as China 
is behind Western nations in civilisation. 
He shoots with an old pattern muzzle- 
loading matchlock gun, which he calls 
Niao-Chiang. The barrels may be from 

4 to 5 feet long, sometimes longer. . . . 
The gun barrels are usually round, 
except in Kweichow, where the barrel 
is generally octagon in shape and from 

5 to 7 feet long. All occupations 
in China are classified, and the son 
invariably follows the occupation of 
his father; the sportsman or the 
shooter is therefore a professional, 
especially in Western China, where 
many of them are pious men. There 
they worship Loa Tien Yah, the old 
heavenly sire, and beseech him to 
success in their perilous undertakings 

A Chinese Sportsman, from Jernigan's Book on China. 


preserve them from all harm and grant 
among the beasts of the forests." 

It is entirely due to the intelligent division of labour, combined with practical 
supervision of every detail, that the modern gun has reached so high a state of per- 
fection in England, and until John Chinaman is prepared to adopt similar conditions, 
so long will he be content with his monstrous, unwieldy and unserviceable gun. 


The percussion method of ignition was early applied to breech-loaders : in some 
the fulminating powder was attached, more or less effectually, to a paper cartridge 

The Percussion System. 125 

case ; in others it was placed in the gun in the shape of powder, pellet, paper cap, 
or tube ; in others, later, the copper cap was used, it being found that its flash was 
strong enough to pierce the paper of the cartridge and ignite the charge. 

A breech-loader, consisting of a hinged breech-block, pulled upward from the 
breech end of the barrels by a hand-lever, was invented early in the century by 
Robert, a gun-maker of Paris, and had a certain local popularity. Pauly, to whom 
reference has already been made, invented several, including one on the drop-down 
principle from which the Lefaucheux gun was developed. Potet, Bastin Lepage, 
and other Parisian and Continental makers had breech-loading mechanisms for 
sporting guns. 

Deniondion's Breech-loader. 

In 1 83 1 M. Demondion patented the breech-loading percussion gun illustrated. 
In this arm the breech-block is raised for loading by means of a lever attached to- 
it, and lying along the top of the grip when in position ; the act of raising the 
breech-block depresses the mainspring hammer, situated beneath the barrel, until it 
engages with the spring trigger, in shape similar to a door-catch. The cartridge has 
a small percussion tube projecting from the base, against which the flattened end of 
the mainspring strikes to discharge the gun, the base of the breech-block acting as- 
an anvil on which to strike the tube. 


The Gun and its Development: 

The lock mechanism will easily be understood by referring to the illustration, 
and the cartridge case was self-consuming, so that no extractor was needed. This 
arm is one of the first in which cartridges containing their own ignition were used. 


In this arm the barrel drops for the insertion of the cartridge, which is of india- 
rubber, with a perforated cardboard base. The barrel breaks off in the middle of 
the chamber, and falls at nearly right angles to the stock, as shown by the dotted 
lines. The cartridge being flexible, it readily accommodates itself to the fixed 
portion of the chamber, and, the base being perforated, an ordinary cap is sufficient 

Gilbert Smith's American Carbine. 

to ignite the charge. This weapon was brought over to England about 1838, and 
submitted to the British Government ; but the escape of gas at the joint which it 
was thought would be avoided by having the breach in the centre of the cartridge 
was sufficient to condemn it. This gun is fastened at the top by means of a 
horizontally sliding bar actuated by a small trigger-lever in front of the lock-trigger 
the whole action being very similar in mechanism to that of the French flint-lock 
drop-down breech-loader described and illustrated in the chapter on "Early Breech- 
loading Mechanisms." 


A large number of the percussion breech-loaders were designed for military 
arms. No arm of the kind was generally adopted for use by the British, and their 

The I-ercussion System. 


use has been so long discontinued that the author has not deemed it advisable to 
include any in the chapters devoted to military rifles. A few of the most inclusive 
type are therefore shown here. The first to be illustrated is the Norwegian military 
arm of 1842. The action is different from any yet described, the hollow breech-block 
being pivoted upon a strong pin, and worked by a side-lever which works upon an 
eccentric affixed to it. By depressing the lever the breech-block is withdrawn from 
the barrel and raised, as shown in the illustration, and the cock situated beneath 
the barrel must be depressed to force it into full-cock. The charge is placed in the 
breech-block, and the cap placed on the nipple, which, when returned to its proper 

Norwegian Carbine : 1842 Model. 

position for firing, is in a vertical position, projecting from underneath the barrel. 
The mainspring is fixed to the fore-part of the stock, and works along the back of 
the cock. There is a small stud projecting from the breech-block as a safeguard 
against the premature ignition of the cap. It must be moved from position by the 
hand before firing. 

The sight is placed on the break-off immediately behind the base of the breech- 
block. The weapon is about 500 bore, and rifled with six grooves. 

In 1 85 1 Karl d'Abezz, of Ziirich, invented the percussion breech-loading 
carbine next illustrated. This gun is loaded in the breech-block, which is capable 
of moving horizontally in a frame connecting the barrel with the stock. The 
movement is communicated to the breech-block by an eccentric pivot actuated by 


The Gun asd its Development 

a quarter-turn of the lever under the guard. A forward motion is given to the 
block by the eccentric pivot when returning it to its place, so as to insert the 
projecting neck on the breech-block into the barrel itself. 

Thus the greater portion of the strain was sustained by the eccentric pivot 
attached to the lever. The lever moved to the left to open the gun-block, and an 
ordinary cap, cartridge, and lock were employed. 

The Abezz Breech-loader. 

The Calesher and Terry Capping Carbine, introduced in 1853, was one of the 
most generally successful arms of this type. The action was on the bolt principle^ 
the shoe being closed by a plug held up to the breech by an intercepted screw. 
To open the gun a locking piece was raised, and when at right angles to the barrel 
it formed a handle by which to turn and withdraw the breech-plug. The paper 
cartridge was inserted through a hole in the side of the shoe ; the plug thrust 
forward, the lever-handle turned down, and when in its place, pressed quite home 
along the shoe, it covered the hole by which the cartridge was inserted. 


This was adopted as a cavalry arm in 1861. The principle resembles several 
which preceded it. The breech-bolt slides to and fro on a flap hinged above the 
breech end of the barrel ; this flap is raised to admit the cartridge d, and, in closing 
the movable head a to the brevech-bolt, pressed forward by its rear extremity c 

The Percussion System. 


pressing against the back of the breech-shoe or standing breech, f forces the cart- 
ridge into the chamber of the barrel and wedges the bolt securely between the face 
of the barrel and the standing breech. The bolt a together with the breech-block is 
withdrawn from the barrel, an opening by the catch c engaging the bottom of the 
breech-shoe e. As a 52- or 450-bore, the arm is still used in South Africa, where 

The Westley Richards Capping Breech-loader. 

for many years it was most popular. It was fired by the ordinary military cap 
and nipple, the flash passing through the paper of the cartridge case and so igniting 
the charge ; the arm could be converted to a muzzle-loader by inserting 
a metal plug and a couple of wads. The wad at the base of the cartridge 

Mechanism of theCapping Carbine, 
by its expansion practically stops escape of gas at breech, and the wad is pushed 
forward by the next cartridge inserted and shot out in front of the bullet. 


The "Mousqueton des Cent Gardes" was invented in France shortly afterwards; its 

mechanism and cartridge is the next illustrated. The pin a for the cap is placed 

under the base of the cartridge, and projects barely ^-inch. The long pin, f, on the 

top of the case is to withdraw it from the chamber after discharge. The stock is 



The Gun and its Development. 

hollowed behind the breech to allow of the cartridge being pushed into the barrel a. 
The breech-block b carries a small stud b. which strikes the cap of the cartridge c 
when the gun is fired. Affixed to the block b is a scear d, forming part of the 
trigger-guard, the other part being composed of the scear and trigger-spring f, one 
end acting upon the trigger e, and the other causing the breech-block d to fly up- 
wards with sufficient velocity to close the breech of the barrel and detonate the 
cartridge cap ; g is a swivel and guard, to prevent the finger coming under the 
scear tail. The manipulation of this arm is said to have been both difficult and 

Early French Military Breech-loader. 

Of the other breech-actions invented at this period, some were adaptable to the 
improved form of breech-loading cartridge, and in the new form are better known ; 
a few may be still in use, but the majority have fallen into desuetude. With the 
single .exception of the Westley Richards capping carbine, the percussion breech- 
loader may be pronounced to have failed. It united the disadvantages of ignition 
on the outside : requiring the fixing of a cap in addition to the manipulations of 
the breech mechanism necessary to loading, and the raising of the cock for firing, it 
is not surprising that it was quickly superseded as a weapon of war, and as a sporting 
arm was never able to compete with arms firing cartridges containing their own 
means of ignition. In but few instances, and in but few points, was the percussion 
breech-loader preferred to the muzzle-loader. 

Modern Shot Guns. 131 



The modern sporting breech-loader may be said to have originated with the 
iiivention of the cartridge case containing its own ignition ; though the breech- 
loading mechanism of the gun antedated the cartridge by many years, being, in 
fact, a slow but continuous development of the earliest type of breech-loader 
already described. The cartridge that is to say, a charge of powder and bullet 
in a paper envelope dates from 1586, and, on the authority of Capo Bianco, 
such articles were in general use in Europe at the close of the sixteenth century. 
They were used ordinarily with muzzle-loaders, the base being ripped or bitten off 
by the soldier before placing in the barrel. At the same time, many attempts were 
made to use cartridges in breech-loaders. As stated in the section on Ancient Arms, 
some of these cartridge cases were strong and heavy, and were made of metal ; it 
w^s not until the detonating cap came into use that the paper cartridge was made 
to answer well in breech-loading arms. These cases were consumed or were blown 
out of the. barrel ; they were not extracted and refilled as were the heavy metal 
ones in use with wheel, flint, and even matchlock breech-loaders. The flash of the 
copper cap was sufficient to penetrate the thin paper of the cartridge case and fire 
the charge ; as instanced in the Westley Richards capping carbine already described. 
Sometimes, as in Demondion's breech-loader, the case contained its own ignition 
a detonating pellet or other primer, projecting from the case at or near its base. 
Bastin Lepage, of Paris, produced a cartridge case, about 1840, in which a copper 
cap, enclosing its anvil, projected from the base of the cartridge ; he claimed that 
by doing away with the nipple there was no escape of gas at the breech, for he not 
only did away with the nipple, but provided a stout wad, which, affixed to the base 
of the cartridge, served the double purpose of supporting the cap and anvil which 
projected beyond it, but also, by expanding, sealed the breech at the moment of 
discharge. Presumably there were difficulties in the extraction of the unconsumed 
remnant of the cartridge and cap, and the idea seems to have been originally 
intended as applicable chiefly to very small bores and to pistols. Houiller, another 

132 The Gun and its Development.' 

Paris gunsmith, in 1847 patented the pin-fire cartridge as now used. Instead of 
putting the nipple and cap, or their equivalent, projecting from the base of the 
cartridge case, he placed the detonating cap, or a detonating pellet, or primer, 
within wads at the base of the cartridge, and allowed the anvil only to project 
beyond. As another method, he specified the rim-fire cartridge, and a variety of 
the central-fire case ; in these, as in the pin-fire, the cap or priming mixture was in 
the wad base of the cartridge case, and the whole was covered by a thin metal 
capsule, as at present used. 

Some fifteen years previous to this Lefaucheux, a gunsmith of Paris, had 
improved the Pauly system of breech-loading. The Pauly mechanism was not 
unlike the Gilbert Smith American rifle, but resembled in other points some of the 
still earlier breech-loaders. Lefaucheux specified a hinge joint at greater distance 
from the breech, and the holding down of the barrels at the breech, where they 
rested upon the prolonged portion of the fore-part of the standing breech, by an 
interrupted screw. The screw had only one thread, and was practically identical 
with the double-grip mechanism, later to be described. Later, he still further 
simplified this grip by doing away with one-half of the half-thread of the interrupted 
screw, and thus a projection on the head of the lever engaging with a corresponding 
notch in the lump affixed to the barrels for the purpose of hinging them to the 
standing breech, became the best known type of Lefaucheux gun. The Houiller 
pin-fire cartridge was quickly accepted by both Lefaucheux and Lepage, and in a 
short time its use became general. 

The pin-fire cartridge and the modern breech-loader, even in this form, were not 
the outcome of any one great invention, but resulted from one improvement after 
another, each later form differing but slightly from the one which immediately 
preceded it. By the modification and combination of details a principle of breech- 
loading was gradually evolved, and although that principle has never since been 
departed from with success, the breech-loading gun, in all its minor details, ha& 
been radically changed. The chief alterations have been in the breech-action and 
the lock mechanism, and it is by tracing these changes that the best idea of the 
development of the modern gun is to be obtained, and it is by describing them 
that the history of the gun will be unfolded. 

The essential feature of the modern principle of breech-loading is the prevention 
of all escape of gas at the breech when the gun is fired by the employment of an 
expansive cartridge case containing its own means of ignition. In the earlier 
breech-loaders there was an escape of gas through the joints of the breech mechanism, 
however well fitted, because the metal expanded at the moment of firing and the 

Modern Shot Guns. 133 

cartridges were formed of a consumable case, or the load was put in a strong 
non-expansive breech-plug. In those arms in which the ignition was by cap, or 
other flash from- the outside of the barrel, there was, of course, always a con- 
siderable escape back through the vent, or touch-hole, in addition. In the earliest 
efficient modern cartridge case the pin-fire the cap, or detonator, is placed 
within the case; an anvil, or striking-pin, projects through the rim of the case, and, 
when struck by the hammer, explodes the priming and ignites the charge of 
powder. The thin, weak shell is then expanded, by the force of the explosion, 
until it fits perfectly in the barrel, bears hard against the standing breech, closes 
tightly round the striking-pin, and thus forms a complete and efficient gas check. 
Further, the cartridge case is a fresh lining to the breech, every shot, forming, as it 
were, a second breech, which relieves the permanent breech of much wear and 
prevents its corrosion. 

Probably no invention connected with fire-arms has wrought such changes in 
the principle of gun construction as the invention of the expansive cartridge case. 
It has been used for every description of small fire-arm, and has been applied with 
success even to cannon. It has completely revolutionised the art of gun-making, 
and has called into being a new and now important industry that of cartridge 

The whole of the advantages of the breech-loading system were not immediately 
apparent, for the original type of gun and cartridge had both to be greatly improved 
upon before some of its benefits were realised, but the principle involved is of too 
great importance to be easily overrated, 


The breech action of the Lefaucheux gun is a crude mechanism. Through a 
lump fastened beneath the barrels a pin passes, and on this pin the barrels turn. A 
slot is cut at the opposite end of the lump and in this slot a projection upon the 
vertical pivot of the action lever grips to hold the breech end of the barrels close 
down to the bed of the breech-action body. The " grip " is required only to hold 
the barrels in position ; the hinge-pin has to keep the breech ends of the barrels 
firmly up to the standing breech and prevent the barrels from moving forward when 
the gun is fired. The face of the standing breech, against which the base of the 
cartridge presses, has to bear the force of the explosion. The thickness of the 
breech, and the strength of the metal of which it is made, are supposed to be 
sufficient to enable it to maintain its position ; actually, when the gun is fired, the 
force of the explosion causes the standing breech to spring back and the joint to 


The Gun and its Development.. 

gape. A like result is produced by wear, and can be produced at any time by 
forcing in a very tight cartridge and using the power of the lever to screw down 
the barrels to their place. This lever, when " home," lies parallel with the barrels 
and extends to the extremity of the fore-end ; which, originally, was not detachable, 
but formed the hinge on which the barrel lumps were hooked, and to which the 
barrels were secured by a fore-end bolt. In other patterns the lump is hooked on 
to the joint-pin as shown in the illustration. Large numbers of pin-fire guns, 
closely resembling the original model, are still made in Belgium and France. The 

The Original Lefaucheux Breech-loader : 1836. 

first cartridges were without rims, and the gun had no extractor, the fired cases 
being withdrawn by the striking-pin. The great fault of the gun is the weakness of 
the breech action and the clumsy and inefficient method of securing the barrels 
thereto ; defects which English gun-makers were quick to observe and remedy. 


This gun the invention of a Birmingham gun-maker is substantially the same 
mechanism as the original Lefaucheux. It differs in the lever, which fits over the 
bow of the trigger-guard, instead of along the fore-end beneath the barrels, and has 
two grips, engaging, each with its own particular slot, in the double lump. An 
inclined plane on the cylindrical head of the lever works against the barrel lump^ 
and forces the breech ends of the barrels upward, when the lever is turned from 
the trigger-guard. When it is returned to its place the two flanges on the cylin- 

Modern Shot Guns. 


drical head of the lever enter the notches on the barrel lump, and draw down the 
barrels, securing them firmly to the breech-action body. The lever, l, is held in 
position by the screw, s, and washer, w, to a pivot passing through the head of the 
lever, the pivot being solid with the action body ; a stop on the washer allows the 
lever to travel one quarter of a circle only. A modified form was made in which 
the lever was returned by a spring ; the idea being to convert the mechanism to 
that of a snap-action gun. This double-grip lever mechanism is very simple ; all 

The Double-grip Bar-lock Gun, and Central-fire Cartridge. 

the parts are strong, and, with back-action locks, it is a form of breech action which 
but for the time required to manipulate might still find favour with sportsmen. 

From the fact that the screw-like grip with its long lever is capable of binding 
down the barrels very tightly to the breech-action body it is sometimes inferred 
that the double-grip is a stronger form of breech mechanism than some snap 
mechanisms which will not work automatically when the action is foul or a too 
thick rimmed cartridge case is put in the chamber. As will subsequently be shown, 
this inference is wrong, since the strain exerted by the force of the explosion is in a 
line with the axis of the barrels ; to support this strain the double grip affords no 
power whatever. The work it actually does requires no particular strength : for the 
barrels may be held to the bed of the breech-action body by the thumb and fore- 
finger, even though a full charge be fired. 

"136 The Gun and its Development. 

the sliding barrel breech mechanism. 
In Bastin Lepage's breech-loader the barrels are not hinged, but slide to and 
fro on the fore-part of the stock. They are actuated by a lever linked to the 
fore-end, moving forward just suflficiently to receive the cartridge. A catch upon 

The Bastin Lepage Breech-loader. 

the lever bolts, or wedges, the barrels against the face of the standing breech when 
the lever is returned to its place, but this was found to be insufficient, and, the plan 
being proved faulty in other ways, the mechanism fell into disuse. 


The sliding barrel of the Bastin and the hinged barrel of the Lefaucheux are 
combined in the Dougall lock-fast breech mechanism. The hinge-pin is eccentric, 
and is turned by the lever attached to it. The barrels not only turn upon this hinge- 
pin, but are moved by it in a line parallel with their axis sufficiently far to clear, 
and engage with, projecting discs upon the face of the standing breech. 

To open the barrels for loading, the lever is depressed ; this turns the eccentric 
hinge-pin, and moves the barrels forward about one-eighth of an inch, when the 
breech ends are clear of the discs and the barrels drop, as in the ordinary 
Lefaucheux gun. When the cartridges have been inserted the barrels are brought 
up and held in position until the lever is turned, and the barrels forced back by the 
eccentric until the discs on the face of the standing breech enter the chambers 
behind the cartridges and prevent the barrels from turning on the hinge-pin. 

Modern Shot Guns. 


These discs were advocated as a remedy for side motion of the barrels when 
the breech mechanism became worn. Now two wings or side cHps projecting, one 
on each side, from the face of the standing breech are extolled as effecting the same 

Dougall's Lock-fast Breech-action. 

purpose. It is surprising that first-class gun-makers should continue to make these 
unsightly protuberances, which are useless for any purpose for which, presumably, 
they have been designed. A well-fitting top extension is a safer and more sightly 
remedy for a fault which ought not to exist, and one that will rarely, if ever, be 
found in a soundly made gun constructed on any reliable system. 

The Turn-over Breech-loader. 


Another form of breech mechanism tried repeatedly without success is the turn- 
over action. In this the barrels are secured to the standing breech by a screw-pin 


The Gun and its Development. 

entering the barrel lump just below the extreme breech-ends. This screw-pin is 
the pivot on which the barrels turn for loading. By turning the barrels to the right 
the breech-ends will be exposed sufficiently to admit of the cartridges being inserted. 
They are then returned to the firing position, and secured there by a bolt entering 
the rib. The turn-over is the simplest of all the principles of breech-loading 
described, but it has not been generally employed ; it is suitable only for the 
pin-fire cartridge, and in the event of the case bursting or the action jamming from 
other causes there is very little leverage obtainable for forcing the gun open. It 
requires also back-action locks, to which there are several objections. 

Jeffries' Side-motion Breech-loader. 


Of the side-motion breech mechanisms the best known is that invented by 
Mr. Jeffries, of Norwich, about 1862. The barrels are turned on a vertical pivot by 
a lever pivoted vertically under the breech-action body, and having a projection 
fixed eccentrically upon the turning head of the lever, which projection engages 
with a slot in the barrels and moves them. 

This plan of breech-loading is probably the next best to the " drop-down " or 
Lefaucheux principle for sporting guns ; but its inventor, after making it for many 
years, finally abandoned it : and the Fox gun, constructed upon the same principle, 
but dispensing with the lever, was strenuously pushed in the United States without 
greater success. Gun-makers and sportsmen seem agreed that the drop-down prin- 
ciple has greater advantages and is the most convenient for all sporting purposes. 

Modern Shot Guns. 



With the pin-fire cartridge it is necessary, after firing the gun, to raise the 
hammers to half-cock before the breech action can be opened. In order to effect 
this half-cocking of the locks automatically the author produced in 1864 a snap- 
action breech mechanism which presented several novel features. 

It was one of the first guns on the drop-down principle in which the barrels 
were bolted to the top of the standing breech. This locking-bolt works in the top 
of the standing breech, between the hammers and in a line with the barrels, with 
which it engages by entering a slot immediately below the top rib. The lever 
placed over the trigger-guard turned the pin which served as its pivot, and upon this 

W. W. Greener's Self Half-cocking Gun, and First Top Bolt Breech-action. 

pin were two arms which raised the hammers to half-cock before the action bolt was 
withdrawn, and the barrels left free to open. This breech mechanism, simple and 
fragile as it may appear, withstood a great amount of hard work, especially upon the 
large-bore rifles used in India, and is here illustrated for comparison with later 
mechanisms, which demonstrate the great improvement made in gun construction 
since this mechanism was introduced. 


Like the foregoing, the Needham side-lever breech-action has for its first object 
the self half-cocking of the locks by depressing the lever for opening the gun. This 

Modern Shot Guns. 


gun is noteworthy on other accounts ; it was the first modern breech mechanism on 
the snap-action principle, and it was the first of which an illustrated advertisement 
appeared in a newspaper. The advertisement appeared in the Field in 1862, 
shortly after the introduction of the gun. 

The mechanism proved to be a good one ; some of the guns constructed on this 
system have seen much hard work and are still in use, whilst the snap-action 
principle is that now generally employed by gun-makers for all sporting guns. The 
locking-bolt, or holding-down bolt, which secures the barrels upon the breech-action 
body, is forced into the slots by a spring when the gun is closed, instead of 
requiring the lever to be moved by hand. 

Side-lever Breech-loader with Bar, or Front-action, Locks. 


One of the earliest snap breech-actions is the side-lever, which for a long time 
remained the favourite of American sportsmen and some London gun-makers. The 
lever is bent round from underneath the breech-action body so as to lie on the lock- 
plate ; its thumb-piece conveniently placed immediately behind the hammer. The 
lever, l, is pivoted beneath the barrels ; an arm continued upwards engages in a slot 
in a steel holding-down bolt, b, working to and fro in a slot in the breech-action 
body, being forced forward by a spring, s, and moved backward by depressing the 
lever. The spring is sometimes fixed in the breech-action body, forward of the 
lever, and is uncovered ; it should be placed on the trigger-plate and connected to 
the lever by an S-swivel. Such guns work more pleasantly especially if the holding- 

142 The Gun and its Development.' 

down bolt is kept constantly pressing against the back of the fore-lug of the barrel 
lump, and allows the gun to be closed without appreciable snap or jerk. The 
principal objection to the side-lever is, that in some circumstances the position of 
the lever renders it difficult to raise the left-hand hammer to full-cock an objection 
which was well met by placing the lever on the left side of the gun. 


The early central-fire guns were used with consumable cartridge cases, and the 
difficulty to be overcome was the escape of gas at the breech joint at the time of 
firing. In 1838 Dreyse, of Sommerda, produced a central-fire gun of this type. A 
modification of it was adopted by the Prussian army in 1842, and became famous as 
the " needle gun," the breech mechanism being a combination of the sliding and 
drop-down principles. 

Dreyse's Gun. 

To open the Dreyse gun the lever is depressed; by this motion the barrels 
are forced forward, clear of the discs, and allowed to rise beyond the level ot the 
standing breech. The lever has an arm extended upwards beyond the point w^hich 
engages with the tumblers, and cocks the locks by forcing the hammers back^ as 
shown. The gun was without outside hammers, and the chief drawback to its use 
was the fouling of the lock mechanism, but more particularly the needles, which had 
to pierce the soft cartridge case and force through the powder charge to strike the 
cap, which was fixed to the wad separating the powder from the load of shot. 

Modern Shot Guns. 


needham's needle gun?. 

A somewhat similar cartridge, but having the cap at the base, was used in the 
central-fire gun introduced by Needham about 1850. The gun is of a very different 
type, having barrels fixed to the stock like those of a muzzle-loader and in double- 
guns, a separate action for each barrel. The only well-known gun at all resembling 

Needham's Central-fire Needle Gun. 

it in principle is the almost forgotten Bacon breech-loader or some hybrid weapon 
like the double-barrelled Remington. This gun is loaded by turning the finger-piece 
towards the top of the barrel, and pulling outward the "action" or breech-block pivoted 
vertically upon the pin, b ; the cartridge is inserted in the recess left vacant by the 
" action " and pushed into the barrel, the breech-block is then returned to its place, 
locked there by depressing the finger-piece, and is ready for firing, the lock contained 

Mechanism of Needham's Needle Gun. 

Needham's Central-fire Cartridge. 

in the "action" having been automatically cocked by the turning up of the finger-piece. 
The cartridge consists of two cardboard wads for the base (as shown), the cylinder 
of ordinary cartridge paper, and the cap is placed on the inner side of the two wads, 
its cup towards the base. The striking-needle passes through the outer envelope of 


The Gun and its Development. 

the cartridge and through holes pierced in the wad forming the base, and strikes 
into the cap. The base is stiffened by a zinc washer or cap, and the case is not 
extracted after firing, but the base, pushed forward by the next cartridge inserted, 
acts as a top-wad. The gun had considerable success, but was soon superseded by 
higher developments of the central-fire system. 


This system was introduced by the late Mr. Lancaster in 1852. It differed 
from the needle guns in the construction both of breech mechanism and the form 

The Lancaster Central-fire Breech-loader and Cartridge. 

of the cartridge used. The barrels, like those of the Dreyse gun, slide forward 
before turning on the hinge-pin ; the forward motion is conveyed by means of an 
eccentric on the head of the vertically pivoted under-lever. A projection of the 
under-lump engaging below the standing breech takes the place of the disc for 
holding down the barrels. The cartridge case is not consumed, but is withdrawn 
by an extractor after firing. It differs from later central-fire cases in the mode of 
effecting the ignition of the charge. At the base of the cartridge case is a copper 
disc perforated with four holes ; on the disc the detonating mixture is spread. The 
whole of the base is then covered with a copper capsule, which is then in the 

Modern Shot Guns. 


centre, and there receives the blow from a striking-pin having a flattened head. It 
is stouter at the edge, where it is somewhat wider than the diameter of the cartridge, 
and forms a sh'ght rim by which it is withdrawn. It will be noticed that the gun 
differs but slightly from the ordinary central-fire gun in general use since i860 so 
much so, in fact, that in some languages the term " system Lancaster" is a synonym 
for central-fire breech-loader. 


The central-fire cartridge, practically as now in use, was introduced into this 
country in 1861 by Mr. Daw. It is said to have been the invention of M. Pottet, 

Daw's Central-fire Hreech-Io.Tcler, 
Daw's Central-fire Cartridge. 

of Paris, and was improved upon by a M. Schneider, and gave rise to considerable 
litigation with reference to patent rights. Mr. Daw, who controlled the English 
patents, was defeated by Messrs. Eley Bros., owing, it is understood, to the fact that 
the patent had not been kept in force in France, where the invention was originally 
protected. Mr. Daw was the only exhibitor of central-fire guns and cartridges at 
the International Exhibition in 1862 ; the system with which his name is intimately 
connected is shown here. The bottom lever withdraws the holding-down bolt ; the 
cartridge is of the modern type, the cap detonated by a striker passing from the 
outside of the standing breech to the inner face ; and, after firing, the cartridge case 
is withdrawn in the ordinary way by a sliding extractor fitted to the breech ends of 
the barrels. 

146 The Gun and its Development. 

some advantages of the central-fire principle. 

The pin-fire cartridge, however well made, is found to occasionally permit an 
escape of gas at the pin-hole. Especially is this the case when the breech ends of 
the barrels become worn, or the chamber is so large as not to properly support the 
case, thus allowing too great expansion. The cartridges are not so handy to carry, 
on account of the projecting pin, as the central-iire. The central-fire gun has no 
pin-hole in the barrels to admit wet, nor is it needful to note that the cartridges 
are put in the right side uppermost. The central-fire gun is much more rapidly 
loaded ; the extraction is automatically performed, and its advantages are so 
apparent that it is surprising the system encountered any serious opposition when 
first introduced. The chief objection raised by sportsmen was that the gun did 
not show at a glance whether or not it was loaded. Gun-makers, therefore, fitted 
indicators, or small pins, which protruded through the action when a cartridge case, 
fired or unfired, was in the chamber ; experience proved them to be unnecessary. 
Eighteen or more years later the same objection was advanced against hammerless 
guns. They, too, have been fitted with indicators to show when the gun is cocked, 
whilst one maker provides a small window in each lock-plate, so that the shooter 
may, when he desires, inspect the mechanism and ascertain which barrel has been 
fired. With the facility for opening and closing the gun modern snap-actions afford, 
the best and simplest way is to open the gun and look at the cartridge. Everyone 
should observe the rule of treating a gun as loaded accidents would then be rare. 
There cannot now be the slightest excuse for leaving a breech-loader with a 
cartridge in it, and doing so should be considered a grave offence. One of the 
great advantages possessed by the breech-loader is that it can be so readily loaded 
and unloaded ; so that if only a little trouble be taken accidents with loaded guns 
would be rare indeed. 


There are two distinct types of top-lever mechanisms ; in one the lever swings 
upon a horizontal pivot on the standing breech, and is either raised or is depressed 
to withdraw the holding-down bolt and open the gun. This type is not generally 
used. In the other the lever turns upon a vertical pivot, and actuates various 
mechanisms, used to bolt the breech-action body and the barrels together. 

The first top-lever mechanism is said to have been that of a Birmingham gunsmith 
named Matthews. His production was a crude one, but the principle was im- 
proved upon and adopted ; a better form of it was introduced by Westley Richards 

Modern Shot Guns. 


about i860, and was applied to pin-fire guns. The chief advantages of the breech- 
action lever being placed upon the top of the gun are : first, it is possible to carry 
the gun in any position without catching or displacing the lever ; second, the 
shooter can at once detect whether or not the action is securely fastened, the 
position of the lever being noticeable as the gun is raised to the shoulder for 
firing ; third, it is easier to manipulate than any other, and, length for length, 
allows of greater leverage than if placed elsewhere ; the power the manipulator 
has to control the lever fixed in this position is very great, it being possible with 
even a short top-lever to raise both locks to full- cock as well as withdraw the 
holding-down bolts and overcome the weight of the spring which drives them home. 
Another advantage is that the hand, after firing the gun, can work the lever without 
losing its grip of the stock. 

Top-lever Gun with Back-action Locks. 

A variety of bolts have been used with the top-lever, the most common being 
the double holding-down bolt shown in the illustrations of the " Top-lever Gun 
with Back-action Locks." Single, treble, and even quadruple grip-bolts have 
been made. The double bolt is preferable, as the single bolt, being short, 
is liable to spring a contingency provided against in the double bolt by giving 
it a longer bearing surface ; this also causes the gun to close more evenly. The 
treble-bite bolt cuts away so much metal from the under lump and the action 
under the barrels as to weaken them, and is of less service than a well-fitted 
double bolt. 

In addition to the levers already described, the holding-down bolts have been 
actuated by other devices, or by modifications of one or other of the levers noticed 
A favourite at one time was the " Purdey," a short lever in front of the trigger- 
guard, the bow of which was pierced to allow the thumb to reach the lever and 


The Gun and its Development. 

force it forward. Other levers in this position, instead of being pushed forward, or 
from the gun, to open the mechanism, were pressed towards it a plan favoured by 
" Stonehenge," and still in use on a modern French gun, and but recently discarded 
by a well-known firm of manufacturers in America. In some cases the lever, 
instead of being moved by thumb or finger, is worked by the hand, as in the 
"comb-lever," which extends from the breech to the comb of the gun-stock, and is 
depressed to withdraw^ the holding-down bolts. 


In the lock of the muzzle-loader it was important that the hammer should 
continue to press upon the cap until after the gun had been fired. To a lesser 
extent this was advisable with the pin-fire gun, but, as shown, gun-makers tried to 

Comb-lever Treble-grip Gun. 

devise efficient mechanism to automatically raise the hammers to half-cock as the 
lever drew back the holding-down bolts. With the central-fire gun it was of still 
greater importance that the hammers should be at half-cock before opening the 
gun, and also that the strikers should not project beyond the face of the standing 
breech ; if they do so, by snapping the gun up sharply it is possible to discharge 
the cartridge prematurely. 

Prior, therefore, to the central-fire system, the main difference existing in 
ordinary gun-locks was the arrangement of the work upon the lock-plates. If the 
mainspring is placed behind the tumbler, the lock is a back-work lock ; if it is 
placed before the tumbler, it is "front-action" or "bar." With the muzzle-loader 
one was as good as another, the preference being given to the bar-lock on the score 
of appearance. 

With the breech-loader the case is not the same ; for the bar-lock more metal 
has to be cut away from the breech-action body, where it is badly needed. With 

Modern Shot Guns. 


back-action locks this metal is left, but the stock is weakened at the point where 
it is most liable to fracture. The sportsmen of Cape Colony, most particularly, 
object to the back-action lock, for, subjecting their guns to much rough usage, the 
stocks are often broken unless very strong in the grip and furnished with front- 
action locks. 

About 1866, the rebounding lock was introduced, and was further improved in 
1869. In this lock the mainspring, by a species of overdraft, reacts upon the 
tumbler, and automatically raises it to half-cock, as will be found fully detailed in 
that part of this book treating of Gunmaking. 

Other inventions of minor importance have in their time served a useful purpose 
and led to valuable improvements in the sporting gun. For instance, the springless 

Greener's Patent Self-acting Striker Gun. 

Striker, which obviated much jamming in guns with nipples ; the patent " striker "' 
invented by the author, which was carried from the base of the cartridge by a stud 
on the hammer engaging with a projection on the head of the striker ; the through 
lump, which, with " circle jointing," removed much of the strain from the hinge-pin 
at the moment of firing, and has lengthened the life of the gun. The spring fore- 
end fastener has saved sportsmen time and trouble ; the one-legged extractor (first 
used by the author) obviated the weakening of the barrel at a point where faulty 
workmanship is fraught with peril, and permits of the barrels being left sound and 
whole. Details respecting some other minor inventions will be given later; 
attention is drawn to these now in order to make clear to the reader that the 
modern gun has been gradually perfected : one piece of mechanism here, a useless- 
limb discarded there, metal added in one place, wood diminished in another, but 


The Gun and its Development. 

on the whole tending towards simpler mechanism, although designed for harder 
work, and to perform mechanically what originally the shooter had to do less 
effectually by his own effort. 


This gun is one of the first, if not the first, of the top breech-bolt mechanisms, 
and was patented in 1862. In addition to the lump underneath the barrels, upon 
which they turn, there is a lump projecting from the breech ends at the top of the 
barrels. This lump is of dovetail shape and has a hook; the projection fits into a 
correspondingly shaped slot in the top of the standing breech, and is secured there 
by a holding-down bolt sliding to and fro in the line of the barrels. This bolt is 

Westley Richards' Patent Breech-loader. 

pushed forward by a spring behind it, and is withdrawn by pressing the lever lying 
between the hammers to the right. The object of this particular arrangement is 
to prevent the standing breech from springing back at the moment of firing, and 
was undoubtedly a step in the right direction. In 1865 the author invented a top 
cross-bolt, which passed through an extension of the top rib, thus wedging the 
barrels to the standing breech. Both of these mechanisms were suitable for pin- 
and central-fire guns ; indeed, many of the Westley Richards guns, by an ingenious 
arrangement of the strikers and hammers, were made to answer equally well for 
firing pin- and central-fire cartridges. 


In this breech mechanism the barrels have an extension of the top rib or a 
separate steel lump equal thereto which extension is let into a correspondingly 
shaped hole in the top of the standing breech. 

Modern Shot Guns. 


1 he belief is that this head keeps the standing breech from springing back at 
the moment of discharge, and consequently increases the solidity of the weapon. 
It has been demonstrated that unless the " doU's-head " is bolted fast to the 

The DoU's-head Gun, with Bar Locks. 

standing breech by a strong grip, either on the top-lever or an efficient separate 
bolt, it gives little or no appreciable increase of strength. 


When, in addition to the usual double holding-down bolt, a gun is furnished with 
a bolt, engaging with the extension of the top rib, it is called a treble-grip gun. 

The Treble-grip Gun. 

The ordinary doll's-head gun is sometimes so styled, but wrongly so. The crude 
idea of the ordinary treble-grip gun would seem to have originated from a 


The Gun and its Development. 

combination of the well-known Westley Richards top-grip breech action with the 
double holding-down bolt ; but, strange to say, this is almost the last form the 
treble-grip gun has taken. The well-known and very much superior treble 
wedge-fast gun to be described preceded it, as did many others of considerable 
worth. The third grip may be a prolongation of the top lever, a small bolt 
actuated by it, or a fancifully shaped and named head engaging with slots or 
V-grooves in the projecting rib. The treble-grip gun illustrated is one of the 
simplest and best of the many forms now common. The third grip is a plain 
bearing of a prolongation of the top lever upon the projecting rib, and, if well fitted, 
it not only materially lessens the strain upon the under bolts, but also keeps the 
projecting rib, which is dovetailed into the standing breech, up to its work. 


This is decidedly the most popular breech mechanism. It may be said to have 
originated with W. VV. Greener's cross-bolt gun of 1865, but was not perfected until 

W. W. Greener's Patent Treble Wedge-fast Gun. 

1873, when the top cross-bolt was united with the double holding-down bolt, and a 
mechanism evolved which effectually, and by the simplest means, locked barrels 
and breech-action body together with a treble wedge. It consists of a steel pro- 
jection from the top rib, which fits into a slot in the standing breech. A round 
steel bolt, actuated by an arm of the top lever, works transversely in the standing 
breech, and passes through the steel projection, binding the top of the barrels 
securely to the breech, so that any gaping or wear at the joint is impossible. 
Nothing more simple nor so efficient can be imagined. This top bolt is in itself 

Modern Shot Guns. 153 

fully equal to the strain of firing heavy charges, but in connection with the double 
holding-down bolt it works smoothly, and forms the strongest mechanical con- 
trivance applicable to guns on the drop-down principle. 

The mechanism is equally applicable to front- and back-action locks, and is 
made on both plans, and is also applied to various hammerless guns. This gun 
is more expensive to produce than treble-grip guns, and, if well made, it is certainly 
without any equal for strength or beauty. So far from adding to the weight of the 
gun, it diminishes it, for guns made on this principle, being stronger, may be built 

In 1874, an editorial notice of this gun appeared in the Field, from which 
the following is extracted : 

"We have previously noticed the guns of Mr. W. W. Greener, of St. Mary's Works, 
Birmingham, the strength of which, at the time of our former notice, mainly rested in the 
cross-bolt, which is driven into the projecting rib, as shown in the annexed diagrams. The 
present guns vary only in the levers by which this cross-bolt and the additional double-grip 
are moved, and in the locks employed. Having always contended for the advantages accruing 
from this top connection between the barrels and the false breech (which Mr. W. W. Greener's 
action possesses in common with that of Mr. Westley Richards), we need not refer to it further 
than to remark that the double-grip now employed forms, with the cross-bolt, the strongest 
development of the Lefaucheux action with which we are acquainted." 

Many gun-makers, jealous of the great success this gun achieved, brought 
out numerous imitations of the system, but to avoid the patent were obliged to 
omit particular points on which the main strength and efficiency of the invention 
depended. Most of these would-be treble wedge-fast guns have well-sounding 
names "giant grip-fast," "treble lock-fast," "climax grip," etc., all mechanisms 
inferior to the original of which they are a weak copy. Since it is now open to 
every gun-maker to build a treble wedge-fast cross-bolt gun as he likes, the chief 
fault made is the weakness of the parts constituting the mechanism ; in some the 
extension of the top rib is but a sham, and the top fastening but an apology for a 

In order to demonstrate the advantage of a secure top fastening it is necessary 
to point out the weakest part of the breech-action. The accompanying illustration 
shows in section an ordinary 12-gauge breech-action body (actual size), the bar-locks 
and furniture being removed. It is cut through at that point where the greatest 
strain is exerted, the junction of the standing breech with the end of the breech- 
action body. The metal shaded is all that there is to withstand the great strain of 
continued firing with heavy charges. 

To remedy this fault gun-makers sometimes leave more metal in the breech-action 


The Gun and its Development.- 

body between the barrels and the locks, which requires also more metal to be left 
where it can be of no use, and not only spoils the appearance of the gun, but 
adds considerably to its dead weight. By using back-action locks a stronger 

breech-action body results, but to these 
locks many objections are raised. The 
best, easiest, and simplest way is to 
affix an efficient bolt uniting the top of 
the standing breech and the upper 
portion of the barrels. None is so 
strong and thorough as the Greener 
cross-bolt, which has been proved by 
actual experiment to add enormously 
to the safety and wear of a gun. 
Occasionally the barrels part from the 
stock when there is no top connection 
between barrels and standing breech : 
the author has known it occur with a 
back-action double-bolt gun, the breech- 
action breaking through completely. 
The experiments detailed below were made by the editor of the Field 
immediately at the close of the Explosives Trial of 1878, from the report of 
which the extract is taken. 

Section of Bar-lock Breech-action. 


"Among our various remarks referring to the then proposed trial of explosives, etc., we 
stated that we intended to show the superior strength of the top connection between the barrels 
and break-off of hinged breech-loading guns over the bolt at the base. Mr. Greener's action 
happening to combine these two bolts in such a way as to allow of their separate use, we had a 
lo-bore so constructed by him that the top cross-bolt [d) could be readily removed from its 
hole (c) or applied at will. This allowed of one barrel being first fired with the bolt in position, 
and then, after removing the bolt, firing the other. To this action we had a little apparatus 
fixed, as shown in the accompanying engraving. 

' ' By this arrangement a piece of silver paper can be strained between the hook (6) on the 
break-off and the screw-clip (a a) attached to the barrels, so that when any separation takes 
place during an explosion, the paper breaks. To prevent the possibility of any doubt as to this 
being caused by the jar of the explosion, both barrels are loaded equally, after which one is 
fired with the bolt in, and then, supposing no breakage occurs, the bolt is removed and the 
other barrel discharged. 

" Experimenting in this way, we found that in Mr. Greener's action no breakage occurred, 
either with the bolt in or out, using any charge of powder which the cartridge case could be 

Modern Shot Guns. 


made to hold, until we charged it with sixty grains of the ' Blissett '* sample of Schultze powder, 
considerably compressed, a thin felt wad, and two ounces of shot, when the discharge of the 
first barrel (with the bolt in) produced no effect on the paper, but on removing the bolt the 
second discharge broke it up completely. Repeating this experiment, the same result again 
occurred, which we considered conclusive as to this powder. After this we confined our 
experiments to the Schultze of 1877-8, that of 1878-9 used at the recent trial, and Nos. 3 and 6 

Experimental Breech-action, 

of Curtiss and Harvey's black powder, as follows : the shot in each case being 2 oz. No. 6 
introduced from the muzzle after charging the cartridge case with powder and an ordinary felt 
wad. In each case the bolt was in position with the firing of the first barrel, and was removed 
afterwards ; but with the bolt in position the paper remained intact up to the last. 

Powder. Result. 

5 drachms Curtiss and Harvey No. 6 ....: No breakage. 

No. 3 Ditto. 

55 grains Schultze 1877-8 Ditto. 

1878-9 Ditto. 

6 drachms Curtiss and Harvey No. 3 Ditto. 

65 grains Schultze 1877-8 Ditto. 

1878-9 Slight breakage. 

* This was a special issue of powder made to the order of Mr. Blissett for use in pigeon guns. It 
was used in guns having ordinary breech-actions and light barrels, and the results were so disastrous 
that this make of powder has not been again issued above the normal strength. ^- 

156 The Gun and its Development.- 

Powder. Result. 

9. 7 drachms Curtiss and Harvey No. 3 Slight breakage. 

10. 75 grains Schultze 1877-8 Complete breakage. 

1878-9 Ditto. 

" In the last case there was not only complete breakage of paper, but such a permanent 
opening of the breech of the gun as to stop the experiment." 

Had the cross-bolt been kept in during the whole trial, it is evident no breakage 
of the paper could have occurred. This shows conclusively the great strength and 
advantage of the top connection. 

Mr. J. H. Walsh, in his work on the " Modern Sportsman's Gun and Rifle," 
Vol. I., writes in flattering terms of this action, whose advantages he was one of the 

Greener's Improved Wedge-fast Grip. 

first to demonstrate, and even contemporary gun-makers now acknowledge its merits, 
for the patent has expired, and in many districts it is very diflScult to sell a gun not 
possessing the Greener cross -bolt. Such guns are therefore made, both in 
Birmingham and on the Continent, by manufacturers who cater for the wholesale 
market. Unfortunately, many of these guns are far from fulfilling requirements, as the 
cross-bolt demands accurate workmanship and very carefully fitting if it is to bear 
its proper share of the work in holding action and barrels together. The treble 

Modern Shot Guns. 157 

wedge-fast cross-bolt gun is far superior in strength and lasting power to the double- 
grip action. A double 4-bore and a double 8-bore were made on this, the 
top cross-bolt, principle in 1874, for the late Mr. G. P. Sanderson, superintendent 
of the Government Elephant Keddahs, Decca. They were in continual use by 
him until his death, firing 2-oz. bullets with 12 drams and 4-oz. bullets with i6 drams 
of powder, " hundreds of times," and, to quote Mr. Sanderson, " the breech- 
actions are as sound and close as when they left the factory nearly ten years 
ago." These rifles are still doing excellent service. 

For large-bore guns and rifles it has been found desirable to provide still 
greater gripping power at the top ; for this purpose the cross-bolt mechanism has 
been modified by doubling the extension ; the one cross-bolt passing through both 
prolongations of the top lump. An increased bearing surface has also been obtained 
by enlarging the extension at its furthest extremity, the cross-bolt engaging with it 
just in front of the dovetail or doll's-head. This form of the mechanism is by no 
means clumsy upon guns of large bore, but the ordinary form is all sufficient for 
those of usual calibre, and using full sporting charges of ordinary explosives. The 
special form renders even the largest shoulder gun absolutely unbreakable with the 
heaviest charges which can be fired, and ensures free working of the mechanism 
even when nitro-explosives giving greatly increased pressures are employed. 

Instead of a round cross-bolt, a square bolt is used by some makers, but the 
form has no advantage, and its use is detrimental, as the extension of the top rib is 
weakened more by a square hole than by a round one of tW same area. Breech 
actions in which the extensions have been too light for the work required of them 
have shown weakness first between the hole and the junction of the extension with 
the breech ends of the barrels, but the tendency to break there is lessened by 
having the hole round. With a sharp angle, as needed for a sc[uare bolt, the 
extension needs to be much thicker and broader to give equal strength, and this 
makes the action clumsy, as it also widens the slot-way which the cross-bolt has to 
bridge; the bolt, too, must be made larger to give equal strength, since the bearings 
supporting it are farther asunder. Added to these disadvantages is the extra 
trouble of fitting a square bolt accurately. 

158 The Gun and its Development, 



Hammerless guns are those in which the mechanism for firing is placed within the 
gun. As previously stated, the advantage of having guns without lock mechanism 
upon the exterior was appreciated long ago, flint-lock guns having been so made 
early in the last century i^vide p. 73). The hammerless breech-loader of modern times 
dates from the invention of those early central-fire guns in which consumable cart- 
ridge cases were used ; but the development of the hammerless principle was 
retarded by the success of the pin-fire gun, to which external hammers were a 

The Dreyse, the Chateauvillier, and even the much earlier Demondion, breech- 
loaders were hammerless; but no particular claim to advantage on this score 
appears to have been advanced. The arrangement of the parts in the manner best 
suited to the firing of the special cartridge used and the principle of breech-loading 
employed happened to secure that the firing mechanism should be within the gun : 
there is no evidence that it was specially designed in order to obviate the dis- 
advantages of exterior hammers. The vogue obtained by the pin-fire system used 
sportsmen to the large external hammers, to which of course, the older among them 
were accustomed in the days of the muzzle-loader so much so that the hammers, 
by their size and position, had obtained a fictitious value, and were supposed to be 
advantageous to the firer when aiming the gun. 

As already stated, the automatic half-cocking of the hammer of the pin-fire gun 
by the movement of the action lever to open the gun was decidedly advantageous. 
The self half-cocking of the central-fire gun was obtained by using the rebounding 
lock ; but later the idea occurred that it would be still better to raise the hammer to 
full-cock by the simple movement of opening the gun. 

Self-cocking guns with hammers on the outside of the lock-plates were made 
about forty years ago, but were not well received. Later, about 1876, when the 
hammerless gun was becoming popular, an attempt was made to substitute the 

Hammerless Guns. 


self-cocking hammer gun for the hammerless, but the attempt signally failed. At 
that time the most was made of the argument that the hammers acted as a sort of 
back-sight and facilitated the alignment of the gun an argument which had been 
discounted by the great success of the gun with "hammers below the line of 
sight" an arrangement of the lockwork produced by the author some years 

Another compromise was the semi-hammerless gun, in which fingerless hammers 
were placed upon the outside of the lock-plate, for which arrangement it was claimed 

The Semi-hammerless Gun. 

that there could be no mistake as to whether or not the gun was at full-cock. The 
makers forgot that there was nothing to show when the gun was loaded, and as it 
was not more safe, but was certainly more complicated, than the true hammerless, it 
found few supporters. 

If the reader will turn back to the illustrations of the Greener and the Needham 
self half-cocking pin-fire guns, the principle of the self-cocking gun will be seen at 
once. Further travel of the under lever used to open the gun would result in the 
hammers being raised to full- instead of half-cock. It was on this principle of 
cocking by the under lever that the first English hammerless guns were constructed. 
Later, about 1870, Needham used a projection from the under lever to force up the 
breech ends of the barrels and utilised the weight of the fore-parts in dropping to 
assist in raising the hammers to full-cock. Five years later the Anson and Deeley 
principle was produced; the barrels, or rather the fore-end attached to them and 
turning upon the same centre, being used to cock the locks. It is upon one or 
other of these systems that every variety of successful modern hammerless gun 
has been constructed. The action lever moved by the hand to open the gun was 
the earlier, more primitive, and least successful form of cocking mechanism ; the 

Lang's Self-cocking Gun, with Dummy Hammers. 

The Leiever American Hammerless Gun. 

Hammerless Guns. i6i 

barrels, used as a lever, whether in opening, or closing, or in both, is the later, and 
more generally followed, method of obtaining the same result with less labour. 

There are guns which cannot be relegated to either class : for instance, that 
primitive weapon in which a separate lever moved by the hand is used to cock the 
locks ; and guns to be described in detail in which the locks rebound to full-cock 
and the action of the mainspring is reversed by pressure put upon it by the barrels 
in closing the gun. The history of the development of the principle of constructing 
the cocking mechanism of hammerless guns ends with the "barrel cocker" in the 
latest and most simple form. 


dreyse's hammerless gun. 

In this gun the breech mechanism is actuated by a lever similar to that of the 
original Lefaucheux ; the barrels, however, do not drop, but are first pushed 
forward, then turned to the right by an eccentric, as in the Jeffries gun already 
described. The same motion cocks the locks, which are furnished with spiral 

Dreyse's Hammerless Gun. 

springs fixed round strikers similar to those used in the " needle " gun. When the 
gun is cocked, the near extremities of these " needles," or strikers, project beyond 
the breech and act as indicators. Between them a safety-bolt is fitted which, when 
pressed down, is made to take the weight of both mainsprings. The gun is 
central-fire ; the empty case is extracted by two small spring clips fixed- upon the 

1 62 The Gun and its Development^ 

top of the standing breech ; they slip over the rim of the cartridges when the barrels 
are closed after loading, and retain the cartridges as the barrels slide forward in 
opening, until the lateral motion commences, when they lose their grip, and the 
cases are removed by hand when the barrels are clear of the breech. 

daw's hammerless gun. 

This gun was introduced about 1862 by Mr. Daw; but it never attained the 
popularity of the central-fire hammer gun he invented at the same period. 

Daw's Hammerless Gun. 

In this gun the lock mechanism is fixed on the trigger-plate, somewhat in the 
manner of the gun next to be described. The strikers project behind the breech 
when the gun is at cock, just as in Dreyse's gun. The cocking is effected by the 
lever, which, in addition to the force required, is still more difficult to manipulate 
owing to its great travel. A flat spring under the trigger-plate causes the lever to 
snap home when the gun is closed. 

Compared with the Daw hammer gun, this arm was clumsy ; was apparently 
more complicated, and certainly more expensive to produce ; therefore the pre- 
ference was given to the hammer gun, which, with its central-fire cartridge, was a 
great novelty. The safety-bolt usedt in he hammerless gun is simply a sliding bar 
working laterally across the standing breech, and is pulled outward to block the 
holes through which the strikers have to pass to reach the caps in the base of the 

Hammer LESS Guns. 


green's hammerless gun. 

This gun, the invention of an English gun-maker, was first produced in 1866, 
and its mechanism in whole or in part, has been used in many later and better 
known varieties of the hammerless gun. The lock mechanism is arranged on the 
trigger-plate ; it differs from the Daw in having the centre-pivot of the lever 

Green's Hammerless Gun. 

identical with the axis of the tumblers a matter of moment in obviating friction. 
during the process of cocking. The strikers do not project beyond the breech at 
the rear ; the action-lever requires a shorter travel, and by shaping it to serve as the 
bow of the trigger-guard greater length, therefore leverage, is obtained without 
clumsiness of construction. The safety-bolt is a half-round rod placed in the 
standing breech, and when moved one-fourth turn by the thumb-lever on the right- 
hand side, bolts the strikers. This gun was never a commercial success, but the 
Gibbs and Pitt, which was produced soon after it, and of very similar construction, 
had a considerable sale. 


The Gun and its Development. 


This gun, patented by the late Mr. T. Murcott in 187 1, was the first hammer- 
less gun to achieve distinct success, and was the first in which the ordinary type of 

Mechanism of Murcott's Hammerless Gun, 

side-lock was used. The illustration represents the gun with the right lock removed 
and the stock part broken away, thus exposing section of left lock. The lever 
A has drawn back the bolt b, and raised the tumbler c, to which is attached the 

Ivock of Murcott's Hammerless Gun. 

Hammerless Guns. 


striker d, accomplished by one motion of the lever a. In the next illustration 
the lock mechanism is shown ; the loose striker affixed to the tumbler or hammer, 
which has a propelling stud c, with which the upper arm of -the action-lever engages ; 
this stud also prevents tlie gun from being fired unless the breech-action is properly 
closed. Mr. Murcott was an indefatigable advocate of the hammerless principle, 
and it was owing to his perseverance that the system so early obtained trial in 
the hands of practical sportsmen. 

allport's hammerless gun. 

The hammerless guns so far described excepting the first have possessed a 
common feature ; they all have the same type of lever, which is placed under the 

Allport's Double-grip Hammerless Gun. 

trigger-guard, and is depressed to open the gun and cock the locks. Another type 
is the German gun first described, in which the lever is turned to right on a vertical 
pivot instead of downwards turning on a horizontal pivot. In the AUport gun the 
usual double-grip bottom lever is utilised as a means of cocking the locks. 

For convenience of manufacture, the lock mechanism, consisting of tumbler, 
scear, and mainspring, is fixed to the trigger- plate. The tumblers and cocking- 
lever are pivoted on a common centre ; an arm from the cocking-lever projects 
under each tumbler forward of the centre. The other end of this lever is 

\66 The Gun and its Development. . 

furnished with a friction-roller, and travels up a helical curve on the vertical 
cylindrical head of the breech-action lever. 

The action of the parts is as follows : On opening the gun, the under lever is 
made to describe the quadrant of a circle ; the cocking cam, by travelling up the 
curved plane of the action-lever, becomes a powerful lever of the second order, and 
without any appreciable strain raises both locks into full bent. On closing the gun, 
the cocking-lever descends, and the gun may be fired. The preference given by 
many to the double-grip lever, and this ready method of utilising it in a hammerless 
gun, promised to make the system popular for double and single rifles and guns. 


The ordinary side-lever is sometimes used in hammerless guns, and utilised for 
cocking the locks upon the same general principle as the under lever snap-action 
guns described. The top lever, being short, and providing but sufficient leverage 
to withdraw the action-bolts, is not equal to the increased work of raising both 
locks to full-cock unless lengthened, when it interferes with the proper grasping 
of the gun, and then needs so great a travel as to lose some of the advantages 
which have rendered the top-lever breech mechanism popular. The principle of 
the gun cocked by means of the action-lever is decidedly inferior to other principles 
of cocking, in which the leverage of the barrels is utilised for the purpose of raising 
the tumblers to full-cock the type of hammerless gun now in general use both in 
this country and abroad. 



The first gun in which the weight of the barrels falling as they turn on the hinge- 
pin on opening the gun is utilised to cock the locks is the Needham gun, which is 
remarkable for a mechanism of equally great importance embodying a new principle 
of extraction, and the gun is later to be described in that connection (^. Ejector 
Guns). The next mechanism was that of the Anson and Deeley gun, patented in 
1875, which quickly became popular, and may be regarded as the first really suc- 
cessful hammerless gun. 

The lock mechanism is elsewhere described in detail. The adjoined illustration 
shows the arrangement of the limbs and the means by which the gun is cocked. 
The tumbler, or striker, has an arm projecting forward beneath the body of the 

Hammerless Guns. 


breech-action, and under its foremost extremity is one arm of the cocking-lever, 
or " dog." This dog is pivoted concentric with the hinge-pin, and has its opposite 
extremity projecting through the joint of the breech-action body, and entering a slot 
in the fore-end ; upon the barrels being dropped for loading, the fore-end is de- 
pressed and carries with it the fore-arm of the cocking-dog ; the after-arm is 
consequently raised, and the tumbler, by projecting over the extremity of 
this arm, is raised by it until it reaches full bent, and is retained there by the 

Mechanism of the Anson and Deeley Hammerless Gun. 

The great safety of the lock-work is owing to the breadth of the scear and 
tumbler, which is double that of an ordinary gun lock, and the depth of the bent 
itself, which necessitates a better hold by the scear. 

The lock mechanism has stood tests sufficiently severe, but it is no longer the 
easiest to manipulate, and a great drawback is the square and clumsy appearance given 
to the gun, especially just underneath the breech-ends of the barrels, as will be seen by 
referring to the next illustration, which represents the Westley-Richards hammerless 
gun with the Anson and Deeley lock-work, and the Anson patent Automatic 
Trigger-Bolting Safety, which last is also shown detached. 

The method of making the barrels fast to the stock is the well-known 
Westley-Richards doll's-head top-lump and top-lever. The safety has the 
disadvantage of cutting away the wood in the narrowest, and consequently the 
weakest, part of the stock. It is automatic in action, the spindle of the top-lever 
action spring forcing the arm backward, upon the lever being moved to open 
the gun. 


The Gun and its Development, 

As made by Messrs. Westley-Richards the gun is undoubtedly serviceable, but 
the Anson and Deeley gun, as made by some firms in this country and abroad, now 
that the patent rights have lapsed, is far from equalling the original type from what- 
ever point of view it may be regarded. In order to cheapen the cost of production 
and cut down the prices, guns are made with loose hinge-pins, sham top-fasten 
ings, and even, in many cases, without any top connection whatever. As may be 

The Westley-Richards Hammerless Gun. 

expected, these guns do not stand continual wear ; not only does the lock-action prove 
faulty, but even the breech mechanisms, after firing but a few shots, are found to 
gape at the breech joint, thus proving that, however good the principle of 
a hammerless mechanism may be, good workmanship is essential to the production 
of a safe and durable gun. 


Since the Anson and Deeley Hammerless Gun has been introduced, the distance 
from the face of the breech-action to the hinge-pin has been considerably shortened, 
to allow of greater leverage being obtained to cock the locks. On account of the 

Hammerless Guns. 


breech-action being so much shorter, the top connection to the barrels is of greater 
importance, the gun being more hable to gape at the joint than ordinary guns with 
greater length of breech-action : in fact, this gun cannot be made to stand continual 
firing unless strengthened with a good top fastening. 

In the spring of 1878 an opportunity of submitting treble wedge-fast hammerless 
guns to a severe test presented itself, by supplying Dr. W. F. Carver with one of 
these guns for his exhibition shooting. In his hands this gun was shot upwards of 

n A 

Top Connections between Barrels and Breech-loaders. 

200 consecutive days, during which upwards of 40,000 shots were discharged from 
it, many of them being large charges of either black or Schultze wood powder. 
This was done without either the locks or breech-action being stripped for cleaning 
or repairs. The action stood remarkably well, and was not tightened up during the 
whole period. This gun was used continually by Dr. Carver for two years, upwards 
of 130,000 shots being fired from it. This test was the most severe a gun could 
possibly be submitted to, and as a wear-and-tear trial it is of the greatest value, 
being equal to the wear experienced by an ordinary gun during forty years' game- 
shooting ; and in all probability no other breech-action on the drop-down system 
would have stood the great continued strain. 

Any gun with a well-fitting bolted top connection is vastly superior to those with 
G * 


The Gun and its Development. 

bottom-bolts only, or with extension of the rib without any bolt fastening into it. 
Many guns are still made with top-levers and single or double bottom-bolts only. 
The top extension is in the shape of Nos. 2 and 3, and is known as a "doll's head" ; 
it fits into a mortice in the top of standing-breech. The intention of this extended 
rib is to prevent the springing back of the standing-breech at the moment of 
discharge ; when made as No. 3 it is proved by experiment to be utterly useless, 
having no bite whatever. No. 2, an accurately fitting head in a circular mortise, 
should only loosen from its bearing when moved in the direction of the arrow in 
the arc a a ; if the barrels are firmly secured by holding-down bolts, the hook and 
sides of the doll's head will assist slightly in taking the strain of the discharge, which 
is crosswise in the direction of the dotted arrow ; but, owing to the expansion of 

The Abbey Breech-loader. 

the metal of the barrels, the doll's head is lifted in some measure from its bearing, 
and its value as a holding bolt is therefore lost ; a doll's head with a bolt in it is 
preferable to one without such bolt, but both varieties fall a long way short in 
gripping quality when compared with the through cross-bolt, known originally as 
Greener's Wedge-fast, which is shown in No. i. 

Sometimes it is advisable to make the cross-bolt grip a double extension of the 
top-rib or engage a dove-tail, or doll's head extension ; this method is used chiefly 
for large-bore guns and rifles, and is of especial service when nitro-explosives 
are used in such weapons. This variety of the cross-bolt is illustrated on 
page 151. 

Hammerless Guns. 


Another form of top bolting revived by the late Editor of the Field and by 
Mr. Rigby in their hammerless guns is shown in the Abbey breech-loader, an 
American invention of some twenty years ago. It is a sliding bolt, binding 
vertically to the breech action a flat extension of the top-rib. It is probably more 
secure than the ordinary doll's head, for the expansion of the barrels being upward 
and the strain on the breech-action backward, the bearing of the bolt remains 
unaltered at time of the explosion. 

greener's treble wedge-fast hammerless gun, the "facile princeps." 

From the annexed illustration it will be seen that the shape of this breech 
action is neater than the Anson and Deeley hammerless gun. This is due to an 

The Treble Wedge-fast Hammerless Gun, with Greener's Patent Locks. 

entire change in the lock-mechanism and method of cocking the gun ; by this 
change of principle a strong screw joint-pin is substituted for the solid hinge-pin ; 
the holes through the breech-action joint and fore-end are not required, and the 
lifting-cams, or " dogs," are dispensed with. This allows of a round-shouldered 
body being substituted for the objectionable square Anson and Deeley pattern 
body, and greatly increases the handiness and solidity besides adding to the 
appearance of the gun. 

The cocking is effected by a sliding rod working in the under lump; the 
tumblers are arranged similarly to those of the Anson and Deeley, but have their 
fore extremities turned in so as to engage with the cocking rod. Upon the barrels 

172 The Gun and its Development. 

being dropped for loading, the cocking rod is raised with the lump and lifts the 
tumblers at the same' time, and so effects the cocking. The shape and arrangement 
of the tumblers and cocking rod are shown in the following illustrations, the first of 
which is a sectional view of the mechanism, and the second shows the gun as 
exposed underneath when the cover-plate has been removed. 

Mechanism of Greener's Patent Hammerless Lock. 

To dismount the gun the fore-end is taken off, and the sliding cocking-rod is 
then free to slip forward past the tumblers, instead of carrying them upward, as the. 
barrels swing ; on putting the gun together the placing of the fore-end upon the gun 
presses the cocking rod into position and holds it to its work there. 

This mechanism was at first made with a cocking swivel hooked in the lump 
-and kept in position by a sliding rod ; it has now been further simplified by sub- 
stituting the cocking slide for the swivel and rod. During the past twenty years 
thousands of guns have been made upon this principle, which has been found to 
possess decided advantages and proved as effectual as it is simple. It is the 
plan used by the author for hammerless guns and rifles of all bores, and the general 
arrangement of the lock-work having been found the best suited to all requirements, 
is followed in the later patterns of self-ejecting guns, which will be described later. 

Hammerless Guns. 



The leverage obtained by the falling of the barrels to open the gun was first 
used for the purpose of effecting the cocking of the locks by J. Needham in his 
ejector gun, which is elsewhere described. Later the Anson and Deeley mechanism 
was produced, and in this the same leverage was utilised, but by different means. 
This was followed by the author's hammerless mechanism, in which use was also 
made of the leverage of the barrels, but in a different manner. The common use 
of the principle led to considerable litigation with reference to the rights of 
the various patentees. In the suit of Couchman v. Greener, which was carried to 

Greener's Patent Hammerless Lock Mechanism, with Cover Plate removed. 

the House of Lords, it was shown that at the time of the Anson and Deeley patent 
it was not new to effect the cocking by means of the leverage which is brought into 
play on tilting the barrels to open the breech, and Mr. Needham's gun was put 
in to show this ; and that,, this being so, all that the plaintiffs had protected by their 
patent was that part of the cocking mechanism which was combined with the 
leverage afforded by the barrels. This, according to their own specification, is a 
lever formed by the prolongation backwards of the fore-end beyond the hinge-pin of 
the barrels, such lever working in a groove in the lump, the long arm being the 
fore-end, the short arm being the prolonged part of it, and the fulcrum being the 
same as that on which the barrels turn. It was pointed out that the mechanism 
which Mr. Greener had combined with the leverage afforded by the barrels was not 
a lever at all, but a to-and-fro movement in a horizontal plane ; and that, although 
the sliding stem might possibly be considered as a prolongation backwards of the 

174 '^^^ Gun and its Development. 

fore-end, it was not a lever, but merely an abutment to give rigidity to the hook 
attached to the lump. That there was an essential difference between the Anson 
and Deeley mechanism and that of the Greener " Facile Princeps " was the view 
taken by all the three courts in which the case was successively heard. The 
Master of the Rolls in the Court of Appeal said 

"The essential part of the combination of the lock mechanism the Anson and Deeley 
claimed by the plaintiff, was not only that the fore-arm should be used for the purpose of 
cocking, but that the forward part of it should be the long-arm of the lever. But, although 
that part of the defendant's gun was used for the purpose of cocking, yet it was not used as the 
long-arm of the lever, and was therefore not part of the combination claimed by the plaintiff." 

Lord Justice Lindley remarked 

" The scheme is different, the idea is different : that is to my mind so plain, when you look at 
the guns and mechanism, that it presents to me no difficulty in the matter ; in other words, I 
say the two guns are worked upon different ideas altogether." 

Lord Justice Bo wen also remarked 

"Juries sometimes are apt to be led away more hastily by similarities which are not 
similarities in principle. Treating the question as one of fact : do the defendants, with the gun 
as made, use the fore-end as a lever ? That is a question of fact. Lord Justice Lindley has 
expressed my views most fully, and I agree entirely in the views expressed by him upon 
that point." 


To ease the strain of cocking hammerless guns when opening or closing the 
gun, several plans have been devised. Possibly the ordinary rebound principle to 
half-bent only was employed in hammerless guns with this intent. If so the 
notion was false, as a stronger mainspring had ultimately to be overcome. More 
successful from this standpoint are systems in which the alteration of the position of 
the mainspring or its fulcrum is a basis to ease the hand-strain of cocking. To 
date of writing, four systems employing one or other of these principles are known. 

The first is Tolley's Patent (Specification No. 461, 1877). The principle 
here employed is the use of a sliding mainspring, and a narrowing or > tumbler ; 
the tumbler-pivot is situate between the mouth and inner extremity of the > ; each 
arm of the mainspring is provided with a roller, and the mainspring itself is in 
connection with the barrels, from which, by means of cam, connecting-rod, or other 
gear, it receives a longitudinal motion ; on opening the gun the mainspring is drawn 
away from the tumbler, and immediately its arm is past the tumbler-pivot it presses 

Ha mmer l ess G uns. 


up the incline and thus cocks the lock ; on closing the barrels the mainspring is 
pushed toward the tumbler and past its centre pivot. This is the first system in 
which the dosing of the barrels cramps the mainspring after the lock has been 
cocked. Three other systems are worthy of greater detail. 

purdey's hammerless gun, 1880. 

This gun has the ingenious cocking mechanism of Beesley's Patent (No. 31, 
1880), and is here illustrated. The principle employed is a spring having two arms, 
one of which is stronger than the other, the stronger cocking the lock, the weaker 

Purdey's Hammerless Gun. 

firing it ; the stronger arm being thrown out of gear by a cam when closing the 
barrels, and remaining thus disconnected from the lock so long as the gun is closed. 
As shown in the illustration, the upper limb of the V mainspring is much heavier 
and stronger than the lower ; its extremity bears against a prolongation of the tumbler, 
and acts upon it as does the upper arm of the mainspring in an ordinary rebounding 
gun-lock. This arm is ungeared from the lock-tumbler by depression. On closing 
the barrels, the cam projecting through the breech-action bed is forced downward 
and backward on its centre, and by eccentric movement depresses the mainspring. 
The mainspring is thus further cramped, and additional strength thereby transferred 
to its lower arm. On opening the gun the stronger arm overcomes the lower, and 
forces the tumbler into full bent, whilst it exerts further strength on the action cams, 
and so greatly tends to open the gun and withdraw the extractor. 


The Gun and its DEVELOPAfNr. 


This system resembles the preceding so far as the cramping of the mainspring 
goes, but the arrangement of the parts is as illustrated ; the V mainspring is placed 
vertically behind the breech-action body, whilst by simply prolonging backwards the 
horizontal striking-pin and notching it, it does duty as a tumbler. 

The mainspring, when the gun is open, is extended ; and by pressure against 
the central resistance of the vertical cramping-lever and striking-pin, the latter is 

thereby withdrawn from the face of the breech until it is past a reversed scear 
pivoted over the striking-pin and spring. On closing the gun, the vertical cramping- 
lever has its lower arm pressed backward by the connecting-rod running through 
the body of the breech-action to the under-fiats of the barrels. The upper arm 
of the cramping-lever compresses the mainspring, the entire force of which then 
reverts to the forward bearing on the striking-pin, and its whole energy is available 
for driving the striker against the cartridge-cap. The scear lies under the tang 
of the breech-action, and is lifted by a deep-bladed trigger. 


In this action quite a different system is employed. The lock, instead of being 
cocked by a lever which compresses the spring as the hammer goes into bent, 
is actuated by a flat mainspring, which is in itself both lever and spring. This 

Hammer LESS Guns, 


spring-lever is pivoted near the centre, the hinder end fitting into a slot in the tumbler 
while the other is carried through the knuckle into the fore-end iron. It will be 
observed that the mechanism is of the simplest description, only three pieces being 
required to the lock. 

The action is as follows : On opening the gim, the tore-end being dropped 
carries down the mainspring, which acts as a lever and cocks the gun (Fig. i). On 

Fig. 2. 

Greener's "Emperor" Hanimerless Gun. 

closing the gun the fore-end acts in the same way to bring the tumbler back to 
its original position, but on account of that being held fast by the scear it cannot do 
so, and the lever is consequently bent and converted into a mainspring {see Fig. 2). 
The spring is compressed along all its length, on both sides of the pivot, so that a 
very strong blow is given. . 


As already stated, the leverage of the short top-lever is alone insufficient to do 
this work with ease to the shooter ; by various mechanisms, therefore, it has been 

Combined Lever and Barrel-cocking Hammerless Mechanism. 


The Gun and its Development. 

sought to supplement the action of the top-lever by utilising the weight of the 
barrels. The readiest way is so to shape the back of the lump under the barrels, 
against which the holding-down bolt presses, that on opening the gun the bolt is 
forced back. Arms on the back of the bolt engage by projection or otherwise with 
the tumblers, so that less force is required to be exerted on the lever. One such 
gun is- here shown, but of this plan there are many modifications, all embodying the 
same principle, and none equal in ease of working or efficiency of action to the true 
barrel-cocking mechanisms already described. 

Another plan, much favoured by American gun-makers, consists in arranging a 
pivoted lever so that one arm engages with the barrel lump and is raised by it, and 

Section showing Right-hand Lock 
and Cooking-rod. 

Mechanism of Scott's Hammerless Gun. 

the Other presses the tumblers into cock. There are many forms of lever, and the 
arrangement of the parts is modified to suit various breech-action mechanisms 
in use. 

The Scott hammerless mechanism was patented in 1878, and illustrates another 
method of cocking. It will be seen that there are rods, a, moving diagonally in the 
body of the breech-action, and having a notch in their fore extremity with 
which two studs, c, fixed upon the flats of the barrels are made to engage, 
their opposite extremities engaging with the tumblers at b. Upon the barrels being 
raised for loading, their leverage draws forward the horizontal cocking-rods, which 
communicate a like motion to the extended arms of the tumblers, and so raise them 

Hammerless Guns. 


into full cock. The lock mechanism employed is affixed to side lock-plates, and is 
similar in construction to that generally used in modern hammerless guns, and the 
lock-plates may have crystal apertures, h, which expose to view the position of 
the tumblers, and obviate the use of indicators. 

Many improvements, some covered by recent patents, have been made upon this 
mechanism since first introduced. The principle is not generally adopted, although 
several gun-makers of high reputation prefer it to other mechanisms ; and some 
recent inventions are based upon the same general principle of cocking and lock 

Hill's Hammerless Gun. 

Messrs. Scott have special safeties and checks applicable to this and other guns, 
and these mechanisms will be described subsequently. 

From the fact that the opening of the gun could be used to effect the cocking, 
it was clear that by a rearrangement of the lock mechanism the closing of the gun 
could effect the same purpose. The advantage of doing so has never been evident ; 
it is claimed that the force required to withdraw the cartridge cases is an all-sufficient 
drag upon the barrels in opening the gun, and therefore that the extra work of 
cocking the locks should be done in closing the gun. Advocates of the principle 
appear to overlook the fact that the force required to press new cartridges into the 
chamber is usually equal to that needed to extract them. The weight- of the barrels 

i8o The Gun and its Development. 

falling by gravity is all in favour of cocking the gun whilst it is being opened ; for 
when the operation is effected during the closing, the barrels have to be lifted, and 
their weight is increased by just that force necessary to raise the tumblers to full 
cock. The first, and perhaps the simplest of the guns on this principle, was 
introduced in 1879 by Mr. Hill, a Birmingham gunsmith, and its mechanism is 
here shown. 

The lock-work is affixed to a side-plate in the usual manner, but the cocking- 
lever is fixed in the body of the breech-action. This cocking-lever is hung upon a 
pivot; one extremity engages with an extended arm of the tumbler, and the other is 
acted upon by a studded rod working transversely through the fore lump under the 
barrels. The two studs upon this rod, on the barrels being closed, come into 
contact with and press downward the fore extremity of the cocking-levers, and so 
raise the tumblers into full cock, and hold them in this position until moved 
transversely to the left by a finger of the left hand. It thus acts as a safety bolt, 
which must be moved when the gun is raised to the shoulder for firing. 

It would be futile to attempt to enumerate, much less to describe, in this limited 
space the numerous modifications of the various principles of lock mechanism 
already referred to. Many of them do not depart widely from the original type, 
others are modifications made to suit particular guns : the Rogers system, for 
instance, which resembles generally the Anson and Deeley, but has the cocking- 
levers bearing directly against the barrels and turning upon another centre than that 
upon which the barrels hinge. This permits of detachable locks of the ordinary type 
being used, and is consequently much employed by those gun-makers who prefer the 
lock mechanism when arranged upon a side-plate than when fitted into the breech- 
action body as in the Anson and Deeley gun. 

Of the other mechanisms, some of which were illustrated in earlier editions of 
this book, a few yet survive and have been adapted to guns of later type, and will 
be noticed subsequently. The majority have fallen into desuetude. 


When the hammerless gun was first introduced in its present modern form it 
encountered much opposition from both sportsmen and gun-makers, but the 
advantages the hammerless possesses over every variety of gun with hammers 
have won for it the general approval of experienced sportsmen. The late Mr. 
Walsh, editor of the Field, quickly found that the hammerless principle was 
preferable ; he wrote, " The hammerless gun is the superior in point of safety and 
efficiency. . . . The hammerless gun is, I think, to be preferred." The writers of 

Ha mmerless G uns. 1 8 i 

the Badminton volumes on shooting were divided in their opinion as to the merits 
of hammer and hammerless guns. 

As Mr. Walsh wrote, the hammerless is superior ; as a sportsman's weapon it 
is safer and more efficient. No more has been claimed for it ; so much has been 
proved over and over again. The following are extracts from the published opinions 
of some notable experts which appeared at the time when the controversy raged 
most keenly ; they are still of interest : 

"The absence of hammers makes the gun very convenient, especially for covert shooting, 
to which I cannot speak too highly of its superiority, combined with safety and ease of 
manipulation. "Gerald L. Goodlake, Col." 

"The hammerless guns you made for me about four years ago have stood remarkably 
well. They have never been out of order;, the locks have never been taken off; neither has 
the safety-bolt been taken out or cleaned. " Granard." 

"With reference to .the safety of hammerless guns, I agree with you that a safety-bolt, to 
be of any value, ought to be reliable, and to illustrate my meaning, the following may interest 
your readers : When grouse driving on the Berwyn Mountains, in Montgomeryshire, some 
ten days since, and using a Greener ejecting gun, with safety-bolt, the rain commenced 
descending in torrents, and, as a fog seemed imminent, the order was given for home. Instead 
of following the downward track adopted by the keepers and beaters, I decided on a shorter 
line of country, and decided to make my way along the face of a steep hill scantily covered 
with fern. Placing my gun, which was loaded, at 'safe,' I made the attempt, and got on 
fairly well for a hundred yards, when I suddenly slipped and began rapidly to descend. After 
going some forty feet, and finding the pace increasing, I was forced to let my gun go. Slipping 
and swinging round, presenting its stock and muzzle alternately at my head, it shot rapidly 
down the hill and disappeared over the cliff, towards which I unwillingly followed. My 
sensations at that moment I keep to myself. Luckily some friendly ferns checked my pace, 
and I brought up a few yards from the edge. Regaining my feet, I cautiously proceeded till__ 
I got on a sheep track, and succeeded by the aid of a boulder in gaining such a foothold as to 
enable me to approach the edge and attract the attention of the men, then hundreds of feet 
below me. Indicating that I had lost my gun, one of them with great difficulty climbed up 
the face of the hill, and after some time uttered a shout. Then, far below me, and embedded 
half way up the barrels, with the stock sticking straight up, I perceived the gun. A mossy 
spring between two rocks had received it in its fall ; a couple of yards to the right or left, and 
it would have been smashed to atoms. Twenty minutes later it was restored to me, the barrels 
plugged up for some inches, but apparently having received no external injuries, save a few 
scratches, and a piece chipped off the heelplate. The trigger-guard was, however, a study; 
bits of fern and rushes were twisted round the triggers, which caught in everything in the 
downward course ; but the safety-bolt had done its work, and the cartridges were intact. 
While I write there hangs above me an old and valued servant, a Greener gun with rebounding 
locks. Nearly 100,000 shots have been fired out of that gun; had it, however, been with me 
on the hills that day, a different sequel might have been told. I always considered hammer 
guns with rebounding locks required care, not only in crossing fences and in covert, and from 
the liability to explode when dropped, but from the tendency of the hammers to catch in 

1 82 The Gun and its Developmen-i. 

buttonholes and watch-chains, as has frequently happened to me.' Sportsmen have every 
reason to be thankful that science has invented such a boon as hammerless guns with reliable 
safety-bolts in my opinion the safest and pleasantest gun anyone can desire provided 
gentlemen recognise the fact that a cheap gun on that principle is one of the most dangerous 
things out, and, when they decide to go in for a hammerless gun, select a first-class gun-maker 
for the purpose." 


The hammerless gun of inferior quality is as dangerous as the inferior hammered 
gun, if not more so ; and in the choice of a hammerless gun the sportsman will be 
guided by, first, the simplicity of the mechanism ; secondly, the efficiency of the 
mechanical parts introduced to effect that hitherto performed by hand. 

It has been shown that a hammerless breech-loader can be constructed with 
fewer parts than a hammered breech-loader. The sportsman must choose a gun 
so constructed. If a special lever is desired as under, side, or the double-grip 
lever good guns have been devised on each of these plans. The top-lever will 
doubtless have the preference, and here there is abundant choice. Any gun 
cocking by means of mechanism geared or in any way connected with or de- 
pendent upon the motion of the top breech-action lever for effecting the cocking 
of the gun will be at once rejected ; because it is liable to miss-fires if the lever 
does not snap " home," and because it is generally fitted with weak mainsprings, 
and often requires great force to open. 

Of those guns cocked by the falling of the barrels, or closing of the gun, will be 
rejected all that, first, do not permit of the barrels being placed readily upon the 
stock ; secondly, that may be wrongly put together and so cause a breakage ; 
thirdly, that require a jerk to open or shut ; because all such guns will be an 
annoyance to the owner, and in the case of the last objection will cause undue 
wear at the hinge-joint and need early repairs. 

There are several guns which will fulfil every requirement of the sportsman so 
far as mechanism goes. The hammer gun, notwithstanding the use of the re- 
bounding locks, which saved the many accidents that resulted from the half 
cocking of the locks, cannot be so safe as hammerless, as hammer guns have 
been known to go off unexpectedly owing to a twig wedging in between the 
hammer at half-cock and the striker, and many more owing to wear or faulty 
construction have exploded when at the rebound by means of an accidental blow 
upon the hammer. The most common cause ot accidental discharge in the 
hammer gun is when placing the gun at full-cock from half-cock, or the reverse, the 
hammer is likely to slip from the thumb and explode the cartridge. With some 
hammerless guns, nothing short of pulling the trigger can fire the gun. 

Ha mmerless G uns. i 8 3 

However expert he may become in manipulating the locks and loading the gun, 
a sportsman armed with a weapon of the ordinary type is heavily handicapped 
against the sportsman provided with an arm in which, without any trouble or extra 
exertion on his part, such processes as cocking the locks and taking out the fired 
cases are performed for him more quickly and more surely than they could be were 
he the most expert manipulator. 

The Anson and Deeley type of lock gives quicker ignition than the ordinary 
lock, for the blow is much shorter and the mainspring stronger. The side-lock 
hammerless guns have not this advantage. Some of them, also, are liable to miss- 
fire, especially the lower-priced ones for the tumblers and other lock mechanism, 
being placed so far from the joint-piece of the breech-action, require long bolts and 
levers to effect the working of the locks, and, leverage being lost by the distance 
from the fulcrum, the tendency is to make the mainspring very light, in order 
that the cocking of the gun may seem easy and not cause the barrels to drag too 
heavily when the gun is opened. The advantage they possess is the ease with which 
the locks may be removed and the lock-work inspected. This is not a matter 
of importance, since a well-made " box-lock " is so placed as to be efificiently protected 
from the intrusion of dust, dirt, or wet, and will work well for years without attention. 
The oiling and cleaning of the locks and other parts, so far as in all probability will 
ever be required, may be easily accomplished, as indicated in the paragraph on gun 
cleaning, and thus the inferiority of the enclosed lock in this particular is not 
appreciable. The great advantages the principle possesses over those in which 
side-locks are used should determine the sportsman in his choice, for, in addition 
to the disadvantages already mentioned, side-lock guns are found to be more liable 
to accidental discharge; the weaker lock mechanism more readily "jarring off," 
and this, as recently proved, notwithstanding the safeguard of automatic inter- 
cepting locking bolts to scears, tumblers or triggers. 

184 The Gun and its Development. 



The ejector gun is one which by suitable mechanism automatically ejects from the 
chamber of the barrel the fired cartridge case as the gun is opened. This principle 
had for very many years been used in single rifles, but its application to double 
guns is due to Mr. J. Needham, who, in 1874, produced a shot gun on the drop- 
down principle furnished with a separate extractor for each barrel. The extractors 
were independent of each other, save that both were thrust out together by the 
fore-end to the same extent as in ordinary guns ; then, if the one barrel had been fired, 
the lock mechanism was made to act in the manner as will later be described in 
giving a further forward movement to the right extractor, which movement results 
in the cartridge case being thrown clear of the gun. Mr. Needham used the main- 
spring of the lock to provide the necessary force to effect the resulting expulsion. 
It was clear that by duplicating the lock mechanism, and employing the ordinary 
lock merely to gear with the extra lock, which might be so provided for the purpose, 
the extraction could be just as effectually done. Mr. Needham preferred the 
simpler mechanism, and, as his use of a separate extractor for each barrel an 
essential part of his invention was protected by his patent, the ejecting mechanism 
was not widely departed from, until the expiry of his patent. The author was the 
first to adapt the Needham ejector to a gun of modern type, and from this modifica- 
tion very little departure has been made ; but gun-makers and inventors, quick to 
notice that two-lock mechanisms could be employed to do the work performed by 
one in the Needham ejector, have produced a large number of variants upon the 
original type of a separate lock for each extractor and a separate lock for each 

Though seemingly numerous, the varieties of the ejecting mechanisms in actual 
use are few. The Needham principle, with one or two important modifications, 
constitutes one type of gun, the chief varieties of which will be described. The 
ejecting mechanisms which are separate from the lock mechanisms permit of greater 
variation. There is a possible difference in principle, as between ejecting mechanisms 

Ejector Guns. 


which are cocked by closing the gun and those cocked by opening it, and again 
between both and those in which the ejecting cock is normally at cock and pressure 
is brought to set the mainspring, etc. The mechanism itself, its shape and arrange- 
ment, may be modified in many ways. The mechanism may be still more elaborate 
and complex than the Deeley, as is Maleham's, or it may be simplified to the two or 
three limbs of the Southgate, but the chief modifications are only such alterations 
of detail as will enable the separate mechanism to be applied to guns having breech- 
actions, locks, etc., of a special type favoured by certain gun-makers and sportsmen, 
unless it may be some have been produced with a view of evading the claims made 

The Needham Ejector Gun. 

by earlier inventors or as improvements upon the first types. For instance, taking 
the Deeley as the type of early separate mechanism, modifications have been made 
either in the means by which connection is established between the ejecting 
mechanism and the firing mechanism, or in the method of cocking the ejecting 

needham's hammerless ejector gun. 

In this gun the extractor is in two halves ; one half for each barrel. The 
tumblers have arms projecting forward and engaging with the barrel lump, and 
upon the gun being opened the lump raises the tumblers just as in some of the 
hammerless guns which have been described. When the barrels have dropped far 

i86 The Gun and its Development. 

enough to permit the cartridges to pass out of the gun without catching against the 
top of the standing breech, the tumblers are not quite at full cock, and the stud by 
which they are raised is so adjusted that at this point they slip past it, and their 
fore-arms fall upon the lower extremities of two levers pivoted in the lump. The 
upper ends of these levers engage the legs of the extractors and force the extractors 
sharply to continue the movement of extraction, and the fired cases are thrown 
quite clear of the gun. 

The fore- extremities of the tumblers then have to be raised again by the further 
opening of the gun. As each lock and extractor works independently of the other 
lock and extractor, and as the ejection depends upon the fore-extremity of the fallen 
tumbler engaging the tripping stud and falling upon the ejecting levers, it follows 
that if the gun is not fired the tumblers remain at cock and loaded cartridges are 
not ejected ; but if only one barrel is fired, that the tumbler corresponding to the 
barrel falls, and on opening the gun the ejection of the fired case, and of the fired 
case only, is effected. 

In the gun as originally made the barrels were forced upward by an arm on the 
action lever pressing against the under lump, and this lever by forcing the barrels 
open to the widest possible extent ensured the cocking of the locks after the ejection 
of the cases had been accomplished. A modification of the gun with top lever 
breech-action was also made some years ago, and varieties of this type are still 
occasionally found. 


In 1878 Mr. Perkes, a London gun-maker, patented a mechanism based upon 
the principle of ejecting the cartridge cases by a separate mechanism situated in the 
fore-part of the gun. The cocking mechanism has nothing whatever to do with the 
ejecting mechanism, nor has the lock mechanism, only in so far as the ejection cannot 
take place, although the ejecting mechanism functions, until the tumbler, by falling, 
withdraws a cartridge stop projecting above the standing breech. As in ordinary 
guns, there is one extractor for the two barrels ; the extractor is actuated by a lifting 
lever, pivoted near the hinge-pin, pressing upon the extractor leg as the gun opens. 
When the barrels have fallen so far that the cartridges will clear the standing breech 
but not the stop-pins projecting above it the extractor lever, actuated by a 
spring, gives a final flip to the extractor, and the cartridges, instead of being with- 
drawn only as far as permits of their withdrawal by hand, are thrown against the 
" stops," or, if these no longer project, are completely ejected. In its crude form 
the mechanism can offer no advantage over that of the ordinary non-ejecting gun, and 

Ejector Guns. 187 

the importance of the invention is entirely due to its having been the first separate 
ejecting mechanism patented. It has been several times improved upon by Mr. 
Perkes, and, the original patent having lapsed, the principle has been adopted 
by other gun-makers for various ejecting mechanisms of an improved form ; all, on 
the lapse of the Needham patent, using separate extractors for each barrel, and 
duplicating the lock and ejecting mechanism. 


This mechanism, patented in 1886, is one of the earliest of the fore-end or 
separate ejector type, and is much more elaborate than the Perkes. In the illustra- 
tion only one lock and one extractor are shown the right lock and barrel are 
similarly fitted and the ejecting lock mechanism in the fore-end is in duplicate. 
This fore-end ejecting mechanism closely resembles that of an ordinary lock ; there 
is a hammer or tumbler worked by a spring attached to it with a swivel, and held at 

The Deeley Ejector Gun. 

cock by a scear engaging in the bent. This ejector tumbler is cocked by the 
extractor leg, which forces it back into bent as the gun is closed (and it is understood 
that this is the method of cocking employed in the following patents unless other- 
wise stated), although the extractor cam usually assists the movement, and has even 
been constructed to execute it alone. The trigger by which the scear is actuated 
is a sliding bar or rod attached to or moved by the mainspring. As already pointed 
out, it is a peculiarity of this form of lock that the mainspring works to and fro in the 
body as it is in turn compressed by the cocking of the tumbler and liberated by 
the release of the tumbler from bent ; this motion is utilised to liberate the scear of 


The Gun and its Development. 

the ejecting lock, for when the firing tumbler is down the connecting slide is pushed 
forward into engagement with the hooked scear of the ejecting lock, so that the 
action of opening the gun puts this scear out of bent, and, the tumbler falling, 
the empty case is ejected. 

trulock's ejector. 
In all guns with separate mechanisms for the two actions of firing and ejecting, 
the method of connecting them is of great importance, and it is also subject to 
much variation. In order to secure the ejection of the fired case only, it is obvious 
that the ejector lock must be connected in some way with the tumbler of the 
firing lock. In the Deeley, as already described, it is an extension of the main- 

Trulock's Ejecting Mechanism. 

spring which serves to liberate the ejector scear; but in the Trulock ejector gun, 
which was patented in 1890, it is a rod or bar, pushed forward by the fall of 
the tumbler till it engages with the scear of the ejecting lock, as is shown in the 
accompanying illustration. 

The sliding rod a, by the mechanism shown, has a to-and-fro motion in the 
body, and projects beyond the joint of the fore-end when the tumbler falls; 
if the tumbler does not fall, it maintains its position, and the ejecting mechanism 
does not come into play. On opening the gun after firing, the projecting part 
raises the front and depresses the rear of the scear, so that the tumbler slips past 
the back of the scear and strikes against a " kicker," which communicates the blow 
to the extractor leg. This sliding rod is common to other ejectors than the 
Trulock ; it is, perhaps, the means of connection most generally used. 

Ejector Guns. 


baker's ejecting mechanisms. 

In the ejecting mechanisms patented by Mr. Baker, of Birmingham, the sliding 
rod is also employed, and can be arranged to work in either of two distinct ways. 
The first figure shows it pushed forward by the fall of the tumbler, but in the 
second the rod is pushed forward by the tumbler being raised by the opening of 
the gun. In this gun the ejecting mechanism, which consists of a tumbler and 
spiral spring only, is contained in a case or " box," which is pivoted in the fore- 
end, and lifted into position at the time of ejecting. The ejecting locks are 
cocked by the extractor cam on closing the gun. The action is as follows : The 

Baker's Ejecting Mechanism. 

fall of the tumbler having pushed the rod c under the end of the ejector box q, 
the act of opening the gun raises the ejector box, which is pivoted just above the 
coiled spring, till the nose of the bent arm o of the tumbler Q is clear of the 
retaining notch or bent formed in the fore-end iron, when it is free to strike upon 
the legs of the extractor, and so eject the cases. 

The second figure shows the shape of the split sliding rod, of which the action is 
as follows : Assuming the gun to have been fired, the slide c is wholly within the 
action body ; as the gun opens, it is pushed forward by a projection on the tumbler 
as the Anson and Deeley cocking dog raises the tumblers into cock, and at once 
engages with the ejecting tumbler q, which it puts out of bent. As there is no 
obstruction to the free sliding of the rod, the projecting stud simply pushes the 
rod forward without entering the recess formed by the spring ends. On closing 
the gun, the fore-end forces the slide within the action body, and pressure being 
now brought on the hinder part of the slide, where it bears against the stud on 


The Gun amd its Development. 

the tumbler, the split ends come into play and the stud enters the recess in 
the slide. 

Baker's Split-slide Ejecting Mechanism. 

The sliding bar to bring the tumbler within range of the ejecting mechanism 
is, of course, an essential feature in all guns in which the locks are arranged upon 
side-lock plates instead of within the action. In some guns this long sliding bar 

Ross's Ejector Gun. 

Ejector Guns. 


has been an admitted source of trouble, and numerous are the attempts which 
have been made to ensure its working. Sometimes it is used to cock the gun, as 
in Ross's ejector (1891), this mechanism a later development of a pivoted cocking 
lever serving the double purpose of cocking lever and ejector trigger, which was 
the subject of an earlier patent. 

The essential feature is the combined tilting and sliding motion of the cocking 
bar. The action of the parts is somewhat as follows : On opening the gun, the 
cocked ejector hammer is prevented from moving by a slant on F engaging with 
another on e, and, e being unable to move farther back, the rod f is forced back- 
ward by the action of the inclined planes engaging, then the bar f cocks the 

Maleham's Ejector Gun. 

tumbler a. The point of f having now passed by E, the ejecting mechanism is free 
to act ; the spring forcing the hammer forward and against the extractor leg in the 
usual manner. When the fore-end is removed a secondary scear, h, is requisite 
to retain the ejecting mechanism in the cocked position and facilitate the putting 
together of the gun. 


In guns furnished with a separate ejecting mechanism in the fore-end, the cock- 
ing of the ejecting mainspring, as already stated, is ordinarily accomplished by the 
forcing home of the extractors in closing the gun. This plan has disadvantages ; 


The Gun and its Development. 

consequently jt has been sought to provide other mechanisms for setting the 
ejecting levers and cramping the springs which actuate them. One plan, patented 
by Mr. Maleham in 1891, is here shown. 

The general arrangement of the parts is as in the Deeley gun, but a stud on 
the lower part of the joint releases the ejecting scear, and the sliding mainspring 
of the lock is only used to put the ejecting scear into bent; the arrangement so 
specified being no part of the invention. The mainspring of the ejector h, instead 
of being cramped by the closing of the gun, is compressed by the levers k and the 
link K2j pressing against the knuckle when the gun is opened. The arrangement 
is such that the spring is compressed only just at the time required for the purpose 
of actuating the extractor ; both of the firing locks and both of the ejecting locks 
are in this gun cocked whilst opening the gun. 

Harrison's ejector. 

In Mr. Harrison's ejector, instead of using the ordinary V spring and tumbler, 
the mechanism is simplified and rendered more compact by employing spiral 

Harrison's Ejector. 

springs, which act directly upon the extractors, so that the ejecting locks are cocked 
every time the gun is closed. The scear, which is actuated by the end of the 
mainspring, has its bent formed in the extractor leg, and it enters this bent only 
when firing the gun. The action is as follows: When the firing tumbler falls 

Ejector Guns. 


the mainspring is pushed forward, shghtly depressing a, whilst b enters the bent in 
the extractor leg d, which is thus retained at full cock. Upon the opening of the 
gun, the end a of the lever a b travels down a slot until near the finish of the drop 
of the barrels, when a comes against the bottom of the slot (shown in black) and 
the further opening of the gun elevates a and depresses b. The extractor is thus 
impelled by the spiral spring, and so ejects the fired case. When the gun has not 
been fired the retaining scear does not come into play. The ordinary cartridge lifter 
is not shown in the drawing, but acts in the ordinary way in bringing out a tight 
cartridge the usual distance. 


Mr. Perkes, whose early ejecting gun has been already referred to, has more 
recently (1892) produced mechanisms of a more complex character. The essential 
feature of the one here shown is the method of cocking the ejecting locks. Instead 
of compressing the mainspring by direct pressure of the extractors in closing the 
gun, or by mechanical means set in motion by opening the gun, as in Maleham's 
mechanism, the arrangement is as follows : The usual sliding rod or the end of 

Perkes's Ejector Gun fired. 

Perkes's Ejector Spring compressed. 

the mainspring projects, and engages with the rear end of the ejector spring, 
which spring is pivoted about the middle of its upper arm. On opening the gun, 
the piece projecting through the knuckle joint of the action forces upwards the 
rear end of the ejecting spring (thus compressing it), until it engages a suitable 
scear acting on the extractor leg, which it puts out of bent, and, the leg being 
released, the spring is free to expand by acting upon the lever, and so eject the 
cartridge. On closing the gun, the projecting mainspring is gradually lowered 
so that the rear end of the ejecting spring can rotate down, and in doing so cocks 


The Gun and its Development. 

the ejecting hammer. In this mechanism, also, the ejecting spring is only com- 
pressed at the time required to eject the case. 

Holland's ejector. 

The essential feature covered by Mr. Holland's patent (No. 800 of 1893) is the 
utilisation of the ordinary cocking arm c to put the ejector mechanism into 
operation, thereby dispensing with any additional limb to connect the ejector 
mechanism with the locks, and reducing the working parts to two limbs only. 

Holland's Ejecting Mechanism and Separate Limbs. 

A is the ejecting tumbler, which is engaged by the projection e on the cocking- 
dog c at A 2. The upper figure shows the tumblers holding the springs com- 
pressed ; the lower one, the position when ejecting. As the gun is opened the 
barrels are depressed, and the ejector tumbler is pushed round by the projection e 

Ejector Guns. 


on the lever c until it is in such a position (over centre) that the short arm of the 
ejector spring a acts upon the tumbler b and flicks it sharply round against the end 
of the extractor at the moment the gun has been opened sufficiently to allow of 
the cartridge case clearing the face of the action. On closing the gun, the ejector 
springs are again compressed, and the tumblers return to the cocked position. 

southgate's ejecting mechanism. 

In Messrs. Southgate's mechanism (Patent No. 8,239 of 1893) the arrangement 
of the ejecting parts is the same as that of the last-mentioned patent, but a different 
means of connection between the locks is employed from that of Messrs. Holland, 
as shown. 

Southgate's Ejecting Mechanism and Separate Limbs. 

In the illustration c is the cocking dog, and E the connecting rod pivoted at its 
extremity and having a projection, e^, lying under the cocking lever. The fall of 
the tumbler has depressed the cocking-lever and forced down the connecting-rod, 
which now projects through the knuckle and bears against the tumbler a at a-. 

On opening the gun the action is the same as Messrs. Holland's ejector, and in 
both the above mechanisms the closing of the gun forces in the extractors and 

196 The Gun and its Development. 

compresses the ejector springs, and brings the ejector tumblers or " kickers " into 
position to act upon the extractor legs ; but they are not free to do so until, the gun 
having been fired and reopened, the respective connecting parts are in a position 
to trip up the kickers and release them at the moment the gun is open to its 

grant's ejecting mechanism. 

The chief feature of the mechanism patented by Mr. Grant in 1893 is the 
arrangement and form of the connecting rod. On firing the gun, the tumbler strikes 
the tail of the cocking lever or connecting rod and raises it so far as to engage a 
projection on the scear of the ejecting lock and bring that scear into position to 
engage a proper projection on the action body as the barrels are opened ; then, 
when the gun is opened, the scear so acted upon comes into contact with the 
releasing projection, and the extractors, thus freed, shoot out the fired cases. The 
ejecting lock mechanism is of the usual type, but spiral springs are used. 

w. w. greener's self-acting ejector gun. 

Simpler than any of the preceding, and working upon a different principle, is the 
ejector gun which the author introduced nearly thirty years ago by adapting the 
Needham principle of ejecting to his own form of breech and lock mechanism. 
The cocking mechanism of this ejector gun differs from that of the Greener 
hammerless in so far as it includes the addition of a stud on the cocking lever, over 
which stud the fore-arms of the tumblers trip as described in reference to the 
Needham ejector, and thus drop upon ejecting levers and propel the extractors 
so sharply that the cases are thrown out clear of the gun. 

Presuming that the gun has been fired, the action is as follows : On opening 
the barrels, the tumblers are raised by their turned-in forward extremities bearing on 
the additional stud of the cocking swivel ; when nearly to cock, they slip past the 
stud and fall sharply upon the ejectors' lower arms, and the extractors, already forced 
partly out by a lever in the fore-end in the usual manner, are violently propelled to 
their full extent by the blow, and flip out the fired cases. If one cartridge only is 
fired, the other lock, remaining at cock, does not engage with the cocking swivel 
or ejector lever; consequently, unfired cartridges are simply withdrawn to the 
ordinary extent. 

The power available for ejecting the cases is only that of the mainspring falling 
about one-eighth of an inch, with an initial force of 18 lb., slightly increased by 
leverage gained in pivoting the ejecting cam. This force alone would not extract a 

Ejector Guns. 


Greener's Self-acting Hammerless Ejector Gun. 

The Fore-end Ejector adapted to the Greener "Facile Princeps' Hammerless Mechanism. 

198 The Gun and its Development. 

case; but, owing to the case being partly withdrawn by the powerful extracting 
leverage of the fore-end cam engaging with the extractor legs, and the cases being 
contracted after firing, the ejecting is effected perfectly. 

There is no doubt as to the strength and reliability of this mechanism. Its 
simplicity is a strong point in its favour, as, although the parts require to be 
accurately placed with respect to each other, they can neither twist nor wear, so that 
the gun does the work required of it as well when much worn as when new ; and 
from the principle of its construction it throws out the cases with less friction and 
with as much strength as if a separate extracting lock, the mainspring of which has 
to be cocked or cramped each time the gun is opened or closed, were provided for 
the purpose. 

w. w. greener's "unique" ejector gun. 

In addition to the modifications of the two chief principles of ejecting the 
Nee'dham and the Deeley there is a third principle, found only in one gun, the 
" Unique " hammerless gun. This gun closely resembles the Needham in the form 
and arrangement of the lock-work, and in the fact that, instead of a separate lock to 
work the ejectors, the expulsion of the case is effected by the ordinary mainspring ; 
it differs from the Needham, and all varieties of that mechanism, in principle ; the 
ejection of the fired cases being brought about after the gun is cocked, instead of 
before that operation is completed. Compared with the W. W. Greener ejector of 
1880, the essential difference consists in the tumbler, which, instead of being of one 
piece, is jointed, the fore-arm by which it is raised to cock being pivoted in the 
tumbler instead of solid with it. The parts are then so adjusted that the action is 
as follows : On the gun being opened after firing, the tumbler is raised, both parts 
moving substantially together until the scear nose is beyond the bent ; the gun is at 
that time opened to quite its full extent ; at this moment the point of the 
fore-arm slips past the tripping point on the cocking swivel, and by the power of 
the mainspring is driven down upon the projecting ends of the ejector levers and 
the fired cases are thrown out. This action is most sharply brought about, owing to 
the great strength of the mainspring and the sudden stop to the blow by the fore- 
arms of the tumbler driving the lower ends of the ejecting levers until they are 
stopped by abutting against the cocking swivel. The gun may then be loaded 
without any further opening of the barrels. As it is closed, the back or striking part 
of the tumbler descends until retained in bent by the scear, and remains there at 
full cock until the scear is released ; the fore-arm, carried down on its pivot, becomes 
shorter as it descends. When the upper part of the tumbler falls to fire the gun, 

Ejector Guns. 199 

the fore-arm is thrust forward until its extremity again engages with the tripping 
stud on the cocking swivel, and thus is ready to perform the like motions of cocking 
and ejecting upon the gun being reopened. 

Upon comparison with the systems already described, the advantages possessed 
by this gun will beat once perceived: first, the result obtained is precisely that of a 
gun having extra locks for the specific purposes of ejecting, yet in this gun there is 
no extra mechanism. The gun opens no wider than is requisite to insert the 
loaded cartridges, and it is cocked before it can be opened even so far as that. As 

W. W. Greener's "Unique" Hammerless Ejector. 

there is but one mainspring, and that so adjusted that only a slight travel is required 
of it, the gun is easy and _pleasant to manipulate, the whole of the mechanism 
working smoothly without any appreciable jerk, and even if the barrels are thrown 
open with a sharp movement, the adjustment and position of the ejector levers and 
mainspring automatically act to check any violent stoppage of the barrels by being 
brought suddenly against the stop a plan which absolutely prevents jar or strain 
upon the hinge joint, and thus adds to the durability of the gun as well as renders 
its manipulation much more pleasant. This point is thought much of by American 
experts, who for many years have sought to devise an efficient " check hook " to 
prevent a strain the arrangement of the " Unique " ejecting mechanism entirely 


The ejecting mechanisms which have been described are divisible into three 
classes : the original Needham, to which class the Greener self-acting gun also 

200 The Gun and its Development. 

belongs ; the guns which have separate locks to effect the ejecting, of which type 
the Deeley mechanism is the most representative ; and the Greener " Unique," in 
which the one lock serves both as an ejecting and ordinary lock, but performs each 
function independently. 

In all ejecting guns accurate adjustment of the parts is indispensable to the 
successful working of the ejecting mechanism. With accurate adjustment and good 
workmanship the expulsion of the fired cases is equally well performed by guns of 
each class, so that upon this one point neither principle exhibits any marked 
advantage. When the mechanisms are compared for simplicity, great disparity is at 
once manifest, and if the size and strength of the parts of each mechanism are also 
compared the guns of the first class those having but one lock are seen to be 
decidedly superior to each and every gun in which a separate lock mechanism is 
added for the purpose of throwing out the fired case. It has been advanced against 
the Needham principle that the double work of firing the gun and ejecting the 
cartridge-case, being thrown upon the one lock, causes greater wear of the parts; but 
in practice there is found to be no appreciable increase of friction, so that the 
objection is purely academic. Indeed, the greater strength of the parts of this 
mechanism, together with its extreme simplicity, renders it far more durable than the 
mechanisms of all guns constructed upon the more complicated system of separate 
locks. There is really much less friction, the gun closes easily, and the weight of 
the barrels is utilised to do all the work of cocking the locks, which latter is not 
usual with guns having separate extracting locks, these being in most guns cocked 
by the forcing in of the extractors a motion producing much friction, as the 
extractors grate upon the face of the standing breech during the whole of the 

The only disadvantage of the Needham principle is the wide opening of the 
gun ; the barrels have not only to drop sufficiently to allow of the cartridges being 
thrown out clear of the standing breech, but still farther in order to effect the 
cocking of the locks after the ejection has been completed. In Greener's 
"Unique" ejector this disadvantage is overcome, since the movement of the barrels 
in opening the gun first cocks the locks ; then, the cocking being subsidiary to the 
primary object of opening the barrels, which is, of course, in order to reload, the 
gun has to be opened sufficiently wide to allow of the cartridges being inserted, l?ut 
no farther. Taking into consideration the fact that the ejecting of the fired cases 
and the cocking of the locks are accomplished by one mechanism, and that only the 
simplest form of gun-lock, this last gun stands out pre-eminently as the highest and 
latest development of the sporting gun, and as possessing advantages not found in 

Ejector Guns. 201 

any other hammerless principle, whether ejecting or otherwise. It proves, if further 
demonstration of the point be necessary, that separate ejecting locks are wholly 
unnecessary complications of the mechanism necessary to the most modern and 
perfect type of sporting gun ; it is as simple as it is effective, as apt as it is 

Apart from the merits and the disadvantages of the various mechanisms viewed 
simply as means for ejecting the fired cases, the lock-work of each type must be 
considered as firing mechanism. The advantages of the Anson and Deeley lock 
over the various side-lock mechanisms used with hammerless non-ejecting guns are 
increased by the addition of the ejector work. The sharp quick blow of the Anson 
and Deeley tumbler, with its short travel, ensures speedy and certain ignition. The 
side-lock, with its longer travel, its weaker mainspring, and its interposed striking pin, 
has its action still further retarded by having to set the scear of the ejecting locks, 
or perform some equivalent mechanical function. The time required to fire the 
charge after pulling the trigger is therefore still further increased ; not unfrequently 
miss-fires result owing to the clogging, stiff working, or other stoppage of the 
separate ejecting mechanism or its gear acting as a drag upon the firing mechanism- 
This tendency to miss-fire is the objection most often raised by sportsmen to the 
side-lock ejector gun; it most often fails in the striking mechanism, which is unequal 
to the extra work required of it. It is true that some of the leading gun-makers- 
have adopted the principle of a separate ejecting mechanism ; its weaknesses they 
admit, but contend that by excellent workmanship and accurate construction the 
liability to miss-fire is greatly lessened ; it is true, too, that the best guns on this 
principle function fairly well. Their faults are not, in practice, found to be of the 
greatest importance in England, for the gun can be at once sent to the makers it 
the mechanism should fail, but for service abroad or far from a gun-making centre 
the side-lock ejectors cannot be recommended. Their construction is too complex 
for the ordinary mechanic to satisfactorily repair in the event of a breakdown, and 
they are ill suited to the rough usage, hard work, and frequent neglect to which 
most guns are subjected. 

An enthusiastic advocate of ejector guns, the author has never lost an oppor- 
tunity of pointing out the advantages they possess ; yet, great as the convenience of 
ejecting is, if it be secured by sacrificing the efficiency of the gun in more important 
particulars, the cost is too great, and the author considers that the present tendency 
is to produce guns with intricate mechanisms in order to effect a function of minor 
importance. As already shown, an ejecting mechanism may be effective without 
being either intricate or complex. So much the Needham principle alone has long 
H * 

202 The Gun and its Development. 

definitely demonstrated. That this principle has proved trustworthy also the author 
has had ample opportunities of ascertaining in the thirty years since it was 

It is for the sportsman to judge whether the single lock-work or the principle of 
the separate ejecting mechanism is preferable. If the more complex type is deemed 
superior, it does not follow that the simplest mechanism is the best ; for an efficient 
lock mechanism must consist of several limbs properly constructed and arranged. 
Doubtless each of the separate ejecting mechanisms which have been illustrated and 
described possesses some advantageous point which another lacks. 

The sportsman can be cautioned ; he should not buy a gun having com- 
plicated lock mechanisms at a lower price than he would expect to give for a high- 
class simple hammerless gun. As already pointed out, with ejector guns so much 
depends upon the fine workmanship and accurate adjustment that it is futile to 
expect efficiency in low-priced guns. As a matter of fact, such guns cause their users 
endless trouble and annoyance, and disgust their owaers'with ejectOr guns generally, 
when really it is only the particular mechanism that is in fault. With ejector guns, 
if with none other, the best is always the cheapest ; and the best, no matter of what 
form the ejecting mechanism, is at present, and is long likely to be, a high-priced 
weapon, wherever bought. 


The self-cocking of the locks is in itself an immense advantage, and the self- 
ejecting of the fired cases, by reducing the number of movements to be made by 
the hands when loading, is decidedly worthy of support. The ejecting mechanism 
as made by the author has been tested in every quarter of the globe and under all 
possible conditions ; it has been found thoroughly reliable in every climate, and is 
consequently recommended by all who have made use of it ; at the present time it 
stands at the head of sporting guns, the nearest to perfection. 

For speed, the self-ejecting gun is ahead of all magazine or repeating shot-guns, 
and not only can it be fired more quickly, but it is free from any liability to "jam" 
when rapidly manipulated, whilst the repeating mechanism of shot-guns is more 
prone to "jam " than the mechanism of a magazine rifle, since paper cartridge-cases, 
which vary in size more than metal cartridges and do not expand so uniformly, are 
generally used with shot-guns of every kind. 

Compared with ordinary hammerless guns, the ejector is superior, because it 
performs automatically and effectually the total withdrawal of the fired cartridge- 
cases much more quickly and easily than even the best-drilled expert can do by 

Ejector Guns. 203 

hand. As described, the ejecting mechanism is simply the utiUsation of the force 
of the mainspring, or of another spring, for the special purpose of throwing out the 
cases. The fired cases are first withdrawn a short distance by a cam on the 
fore-end, and the weight and leverage of the barrels are available to effect the partial 
withdrawal just as in ordinary hammer and hammerless guns. The case being taper 
and the cartridge chamber also being taper, when the case, even if tight-fitting or 
"jammed," has been withdrawn the usual fourth of an inch, it is usually quite loose 
and free, and requires only a flip of the cartridge extractor to throw it clear of the 
gun. This motion the ejecting mechanism produces, and nothing more ; there is 
therefore no increased leverage, and no extra strain upon the breech-loading 
mechanism ; nor even upon the lock mechanism, provided that the ejecting 
mechanism is upon the most approved principle, as the Needham or the 
"Unique." Sportsmen, however, should remember that, although the ejecting 
mechanism can throw out the cartridges in a small fraction of the time required to 
remove them by hand, yet some time is required for the mechanism to function, and 
that it is quite possible by a too violent jerk in opening the gun to prevent the 
ejection of the cases, the mainspring or its equivalent not being given the necessary 
fraction of a second it requires to act upon the ejecting levers.- This is no failure 
upon the part of the gun or its mechanism, but is due to the too great liaste of the 
person manipulating it. The ejector enables the quick shot to reload in less than 
half the time possible with an ordinary gun, and by a little pi-actice even the 
quickest manipulator of the gun can acquire the habit of opening the gun evenly 
and, in reality, with less loss of time than results from violently jerking the gun in 
order to raise the breech end of the barrels. 

The testimony in favour of the ejector gun is overwhelming. Here, as in the 
case of hammerless guns, the extracts from the opinions of experts are taken from 
reports published at a time when the advantages of the ejector were not so 
generally admitted as at present. 

" I like the gun very much indeed, and find it very handy. The action, too, is very neat, 
and an improvement on the older pattern of hammerless." 

" I do not see that there is anything in the ejecting action which will make them wear out 
sooner than other guns ; at any rate, mine work as smoothly and perfectly now as they did the 
first day I used them." 

" I received the ejector last autumn. \ returned it three weeks since. It was never in that 
time out of my possession, was never out of gear in any way. It had done lots of work before it 
came into my hands, and is as ready to go through as much more. . . . Its three advantages 
appear to me to be celerity, comfort, and economy. An ejector gun will do the work of tivo guns." 

" The ejector gun is a step in the right direction ; it throws out the empty cases perfectly. 
This ejecting is a great convenience in a hot corner." 


The Gun and its Development. 

Another sportsman has found that by carrying a spare cartridge conveniently 
between the fingers of the left hand, he can obtain a third shot at a bird or covey if 
he uses the ejector gun ; but this only after he has practised the manoeuvre and 
become expert in the manipulation of the gun. The benefits derivable from the 
self-extracting mechanism are so considerable that all who use guns will find it to- 
their advantage to learn how to handle the gun so as to obtain the utmost value 
from the additional mechanism. 


Hammerless guns, and some hammer guns, are provided with safety-bolts. 
The object of these mechanisms is to protect the shooter and others from the 
consequences which might result from an accidental or premature discharge of the 
gun. Safeties are of various kinds ; some act automatically, others require to be 
moved to " safe " by the hand of the shooter. The bolts have been used to lock 
the tumblers, the scears, and the triggers. A well-made hammerless gun is safer 

A Right Bent. 

A Wrong Bent. 

than a gun with hammers ; it is not so liable to accidental discharge as is the 
hammer gun consequently, the necessity for safeties upon hammerless guns is not so 
apparent, although all, or nearly all, of them are so fitted. To a hammerless gun, with 
well-made locks, and of mechanism sufficierftly strong and simple not to get out of 
order, an external automatic safety-bolt is of use only to take the place of the half- 
cock. In shooting dangerous game, and usually in all shooting, the gun is carried at 
full cock, whether it be hammerless or not ; therefore the locks must be efficient, so 
that they will remain at full cock until disengaged by the trigger. It is evident,, 
then, that a trigger-bolting safety is all that is required, and the simpler it is the 

Ejector Guns. 


better. There is no safety more simple than the side safety shown with the lock 
mechanism of the Anson and Deeley lock on page 269. 

The safety and durability of a lock are dependent on the shape of the bent. 
Taking for an instance the tumbler and scear of the Greener "Facile Princeps" or 
self-acting ejector mechanism, the sketches on page 204 show the bearing of the 
scear rightly and wrongly. A bent shaped as shown, if of such depth, and with the 
centres of both tumbler and scear in proper relation, will never jar off; the work, 
however, is so fine that many guns on Anson and Deeley, and other systems, are 
made as in the second figure, the body as well as nose of the scear in contact with 
the tumbler. Any gun-locks in which scear and tumbler are so shaped or arranged 
as to permit of contact of anything but the nose of the scear in the tumbler-bent 
are liable to be jarred off by extraneous blows or the firing of one barrel. When 
the Anson and Deeley, or other guns of like mechanism, have gone off unawares, 
or both barrels together, it is probably due to this fault; it is certain that such 
accidents arise from defective workmanship rather than from any fault of the 
principle of this type of hammerless lock. 


The hammerless gun cannot be considered complete unless fitted with an 
efficient external safety ; and although many forms of intercepting bolts fitted to 

Automatic Top Safety, showing the amount of woodwork cut away to accommodate the mechanism. 

the inside mechanism and operated automatically have been devised, but little 
alteration has been made in the design of the hand-operated external safety 
since its adoption for hammerless guns over thirty years ago. 

When the author commenced the manufacture of the Anson and Deeley 
hammerless gun in 1875 ^^ considered the top safety with which it was then fitted 
too complicated, and utilised the simple side safety, which is still used with com- 
plete success on Greener guns. 


The Gun and its Development. 

The trigger-bolting safeties are usually fixed on the top of the grip of the gun, 
and the opening of the gun forces the bolt backward, so as to bring the mechanism 
into contact with the trigger blades and secure them, preventing them from engaging 
the scears until the bolt has been moved forward by the shooter. 

The automatic top safety fitted to nearly all hammerless guns other than those 
made by the author is undoubtedly a relic of the old half-cocking hammer in that 
it necessitates an additional movement on the part of the shooter before the 
trigger can be pulled; it weakens the stock considerably just where it is least 
calculated to withstand the strain, a large portion of the " hand " being cut 
away to accommodate its mechanism ; it is liable to be pushed on uncon- 

Greener's Side Safety : Showing small 
space occupied by the " spindle." 

sciously when carrying the gun on the shoulder, and many a bird has 
been lost through the shooter omitting to push it off " safe " in the excitement 
of shooting. The side safety is a distinctive feature of Greener hammerless 
and ejector guns. It is placed where there is more wood, and it cuts 
away very little more than the ordinary lock-pin or " side-nail " ; it has the 
further advantage of being so placed as to be within convenient reach of the 
thumb, but at the same time where it cannot be thrown out of safety unconsciously 
or accidentally by the grip of the right hand on the stock. It may be made either 
independent in action or to bolt automatically. This safe may be locked for 
pigeon-shooting or other purposes by plugging the space between the safety-lever 
and its plate with a small piece of cork, or a small metal plate may be screwed in. 

Ejector Guns. 


The top safety is used on so many guns of all qualities that one can only 
suppose that use has accustomed the sportsman to it, and further, that few, 
unless their attention is particularly drawn to this point, really give the matter 
consideration, but accept what the gun-maker gives them without due regard to its 
personal convenience ; yet although the top safety is a " London fashion " it 
is probable that the author has supplied a larger number of guns fitted with the 
side safety than the London makers have turned out with the automatic top 
safety mechanism. 

The old " grip safety," placed behind the trigger-guard, was known and used 
more than a hundred years ago ; it is of little use, because the gun, when carried, 
is usually gripped on the safe the triggers consequently are unbolted. This form 
of safety has recently been applied to hammerless guns, and in several forms is still 
used. The "Silver" safety is constructed upon the same principle, but with the 

11-^-^^ Greener's Butt Safety Bolt. 

gearing so modified that not only are the triggers bolted, but the scears and 
tumblers also ; they are all usually unbolted immediately the gun is grasped. 

With the muzzle-loaders also a safety-bolt was used, which was held by a spring, 
to bolt the triggers, and was automatically released when the gun was put to the 
shoulder by gearing attached to a movable heel-plate or a movable projection 
therein. As soon as the gun was pressed to the shoulder the triggers, etc., were 
released ; but, as this was also the case when the gun was placed on the ground for 
loading and ramming home the charge, it was of little use as a safety. In 1879 
the author introduced a certain modification for use in hammerless guns. The 
general arrangement is here shown, and the bolt referred to, because several 
patents for similar bolts have since been granted, both in this country and abroad. 
It was objected to it that the gun was not safe when left on the ground muzzle 
upward ; but this is not a serious objection, since, if the gun fell or was knocked 
down, the bolts would automatically engage the tumblers or triggers before the 


The Gun and its Development. 

locks could jar ofiF. The movable heel-plate was not liked ; to this cause most 
probably the failure of the principle may be attributed with greater truth. 

There are many instances on record of the automatic safety proving dangerous ; 
one may be recorded. A party in India were elephant-hunting. One, a well-tried 
sportsman and known elephant killer, with a gun by an eminent maker, had a splen- 
did chance of dropping a wounded tusker. 
He aimed, and the elephant, seeing him, 
charged. To the surprise of his brother- 
sportsmen who were hastening to the 
finish he dropped his rifle without firing, 
and beat an ignominious retreat behind a 
friendly boulder, dodging the elephant 
until the others arrived to his assistance. 
The result proved that he, a cool and 
expert hunter of dangerous game, had 
neglected to unbolt the safety, and he 
acknowledged that it had been an element 
of danger to him instead of security. 


Sometimes the safety takes the form 
of an intercepting bolt, which by means 
of a spring is held so that it blocks the 
tumbler or hammer, should it be jarred 
from full cock. When the trigger is pressed, 
a lever or other gear moves this intercept- 
ing bolt from its position in the path of 
travel of the hammer, which is then free 
to reach the cap of the cartridge. The 
principle is very old (it was used in a 
modified form before the middle of the 
last century), but in its more modern and 
most popular form it is found in the mechanism known as 'the " Scott " safety. In 
this a lever is pivoted so that its one extremity, c, comes into contact with the 
trigger exactly as does the scear, d. A projection, a, on the other extremity of this 
lever will, under certain conditions, block the tumbler, b, so as to prevent its 
reaching the exploding pin, E. In the thr^e figures, the lock is shown cocked and 

Scott's Automatic Intercepting Safety Bolt. 

Ejector Guns. 


ready for firing in the first ; in the second, the trigger has been pulled, and the 
tumbler released and struck the striker, e. In the last, it is supposed that the 
tumbler has been liberated by some means other than the pulling of the trigger, and 
the tumbler has consequently failed to reach e, being effectually blocked by the 
stud A. This safety, as made, is not strong enough to be relied on implicitly. 

A second scear, working just as the ordinary scear, but not engaging with the 
tumbler unless the tumbler falls from the position in which it is held by the primary 
scear, is sometimes used as an automatic intercepting bolt; but this in common with 
other many other so-called self-acting bolts is found in practice to be a cause of 
much annoyance by occasionally blocking the tumbler when the trigger is pulled. 

Greener's Automatic Intercepting Safety Bolt. 

Nevertheless, the ejector gun should be provided with some such mechanism, or its 
equivalent ; for the ordinary ejector gun, as already explained, depends entirely upon 
the accurate adjustment of various mechanisms to act conjointly and simultaneously. 
If by reason of hasty manipulation, the undue straining, clogging, or breakage of a 
limb, the various parts of the mechanism do not act in unison, it may be that the 
cartridge-case is ejected before the lock is cocked, and upon the gun being reloaded 
and hastily closed the tumbler, if not fitted with a bolting mechanism, would fall 
upon, the cap of the cartridge, and possibly with such force as to explode it. 

A secondary scear, intercepting safety, or catch bolt would prevent an accident 
of this kind; hence such bolts are fitted to some lock mechanisms of ejector guns. 
It also acts to prevent the premature explosion of the second barrel if the tumbler 
is jarred from bent as a result of firing the first barrel or from any jarring of the 

2IO The Gun- and its Development. 

gun, and should, in fact, prevent the striker coming into contact with the cartridge 
until after the trigger has been pressed. 

With so many and diverse forms of lock and ejecting mechanisms it is not surpris- 
ing that the safety bolts are of different types; practically all are of the same principle 
modified to suit the particular mechanism, arrangement, or size of gun to which the 
bolts are fitted. In the one illustrated the trigger acts directly upon the lower arm 
of the horizontally pivoted vertical blocking bolt to withdraw the upper arm from 
a position intercepting the path of the tumbler. If, from any cause other than 
pressure on the trigger, the tumbler escapes from full cock, it is caught by the hook 
of the catch bolt before it can reach the cap ; in like manner, if the cocking 
mechanism should fail to lift the tumbler to full bent, or from the snapping of its 
spring the scear should fail to catch it there, or by breakage or fouling of the scear 
point fail to retain it, the catch block will prevent the tumbler falling. 

As shown, the catch bolt is strong, and is so placed as to effectually control and 
block the tumbler on its fall. Consisting practically of but one piece, it is unlikely 
to jam or fail to act, and it is readily fitted to any lock. Of course, this safety, as 
all others of the same type, may never be required ; it is never brought into 
requisition until some other portion of the mechanism is broken, weakened, or 
worn out, though every time the gun is opened and fired it acts automatically, 
blocking and freeing the tumbler alternately, in the same manner as, but quite 
independent of, the ordinary scear. It is a piece held in reserve a precautionary 
mechanism safeguarding the shooter, but acting quite independently of the parts 
necessary to the proper working of the gun. 

These remarks apply more particularly to hammerless and ejector guns having 
locks of the "box" or Anson and Deeley pattern. Side-lock hammerless guns, being 
neither so rigid nor so strong as those of the box pattern, are more readily "jarred 
off " ; a smart rap on the stock is often suflftcient to free both locks from full-cock. 
This liability is due to the wrong centring of the tumblers and scears, and to the 
less breadth, and consequently weaker grip, of the scear. A further mistake in side- 
lock guns is to fix automatic intercepting safety bolts similar to second scears, and 
so arrange them that a jar which will liberate the scear from bent will, at the same 
time, produce a corresponding movement, but of greater degree, to the safety-bolt, 
and thus prevent its action at the very moment it is required. In the author's 
opinion the box-lock, constructed as here specified, is more trustworthy, without 
any safety-bolt, than is the ordinary hammerless side-lock with any of the inter- 
cepting automatic bolts commonly used ; it has greater wear, and no ordinary blow 
or shock will jar its scears from bent. 





Fire-arms, as weapons of war, upon their introduction into 
Europe were produced under the immediate supervision 
of mih'tary commanders In the case of large cannon it 
was not unusual to construct the weapon on the field of 
battle, as such " engines " were used only for the besieging 
of fortified towns. When the weapon had served its turn 
the town having fallen or the siege been raised it was 
sold for old metal, if too cumbrous to be readily removed. 
In the circumstances, therefore, a knowledge of fire-arms 
construction came to be regarded as necessary to the 
education of the warrior, and the military treatises, from 
that of Robertus Valturius in 1472, were incomplete unless 
containing references to " miUtary fireworks " and instruc- 
tions as to the manufacture of fire-arms. 

It is known that 500 hand cannon, wholly of metal, the 
barrels about four inches in length, were made at Perugia 
in 1364. These were probably forged by the smiths and 
it was the smiths' guild which subsequently monopolised 
the fire-arms trade on the Continent. 

The centres of the gun-making industry were either 
arsenals, as at St. Etienne, Brescia, etc., or the industry 
became localised in the country of the smiths, particularly 
of the nail forgers, as at Bilboa and Eibar in Spain, Eiege in the Netherlands, 
and Suhl in Germany. 

The Suhl gunsmiths obtained incorporation as a distinct craft in 1463, but 
it was not until the seventeenth century that the barrel-welders of Liege founded 
their society, and then only as a division of the older guild of smiths. In Liege 
the mounting of the barrels was the privilege of the carpenters, and anyone not 

Martin Merz Gun-maker of 
Amberg, died 1501. 

212 The Gun and its Development. 

belonging to their guild found to have stocked a musket was fined three golden 
florins and his work confiscated. 

The tyranny of the guilds caused many who had learned the craft to seek em- 
ployment and liberty abroad. In 1545, Henry VIII. had in his service a number 
of Hainaulters who knew how to use, repair, and make the arquebus. These men 
were stationed in the Tower of London, and formed the nucleus of a craft which 
has been carried on continuously in that neighbourhood ever since. In the reign of 
Elizabeth there* were thirty-seven accredited gunsmiths plying their trade in the 
Minories ; in 1590, Henricke, a Dutchman, was the acknowledged head of the craft. 
King James I. repealed an Act of Queen Mary, and bestowed the monopoly of gun- 
making upon Edmund Nicholson; so that the trade dwindled until, in 1607, only 
five members remained, and they prayed to Parliament for the abolition of the 
monopoly which threatened the extinction of the "mystery" of gun-making. Their 
grievance was redressed, but no important forward movement was made until 1637, 
when the London gun-makers obtained their charter of incorporation, the provisions 
of which were enlarged and the privileges referring to the proof of arms re-bestowed 
in 1672. The London gun-makers henceforth appear frequently in past annals, 
chiefly as petitioners to Parliament for orders ; for powers to restrict or prohibit the 
importation of fire-arms (1680); and later (17 10) for payment theybemg creditors 
to the extent of more than thirty thousand pounds for arms supplied, of which sum 
they could " not get a farthing," although 10,000 arms could be "bought up in 
Holland and ready money remitted to the Dutch." The purchase of weapons 
abroad has been a standing grievance, and was expressed most emphatically in the 
petitions of 1680, 1706, 17 10, and after the large purchases in 1793, ^"^d the 
attempt to buy up all obtainable in 1803. It has also frequently reappeared in the 
Parliamentary debates of more recent periods. Another lasting trouble of the 
London gun-makers was the competition of Birmingham manufacturers. 

The first cannon foundry was established by John O'Ewen about 1535. Cannon 
were cast at Uckfield in 1543, and a century later, if not at an earlier date, 
culverins were made by the smiths of Deriton, Birmingham. Nathaniel Nye, 
master-gunner of Worcester during the Commonwealth, states the fact, also, that 
fire-arms, of a sort, were made at Bromsgrove, a town midway between Birmingham 
and Worcester. 

The gun-making industry of Birmingham more properly dates from 1683, when 
Sir Richard Newdigate, the then member for Warwickshire, procured from the 
Government an order for muskets which he prevailed upon the Birmingham smiths 
to accept, rendering them financial assistance in order to fulfil the contract. These 


214 The Gun and its Development. 

weapons were approved, much to the chagrin of the London Company, who com- 
plained to Parhament, and the Board was recommended to " compose the matter 
in dispute." The Birmingham smiths were able to furnish more guns than required, 
and turned out two hundred muskets a month. In 1692 they presented Sir Richard 
Newdigate with a testimonial and the first gun made in Birmingham, which quaint 
weapon is still preserved at Arbury, the Warwickshire seat of the Newdigate 

In 1693 the guns made at Birmingham were proved there ; in 1698 the English 
industry received an impetus from the opening of the African trade. The rivalry 
between Birmingham and London makers became acute. J. Goodwin, F.S.A., 
writes : " There is too much reason for believing that the London smiths had 
recourse to very questionable expedients in the hope of driving their Midland rivals 
from the field." In February, 1707, four hundred Birmingham makers petitioned 
Parliament that, unless the persecution of the London Company was stopped, they 
should have to emigrate to a foreign nation. They decided to remain, and have 
since held their ground. At the close of last century the Government instituted a 
branch " tower" at Birmingham for the examination and proof of arms purchased in 
the neighbourhood. Birmingham supplied enormous quantities, not only of finished 
arms, but of barrels, locks, and parts, and has almost uninterruptedly supplied the 
Government since. In 1813, in addition to the Government testing establishment, a 
general proof-house was provided for the use of the trade and the protection of the 
public; at it there were proved 1,388,725 gun barrels and 292,245 pistol barrels 
during the first twelve years of its existence. 

The subsequent development of the fire-arms industry in Birmingham is well- 
known history. The enormous output resulting from the improved methods of 
making gun-barrels by machinery was not injured by the withdrawal of all Govern- 
ment orders for ten years (1817-29); but the miUtary branch of the trade was 
checked at a later date by the establishment of fire-arms manufactories by the 
Government at Lewisham and Enfield, and was almost extirpated when this lead was 
followed by the foreign Powers generally. The Birmingham gun-makers, adapting 
themselves to the changed conditions with praiseworthy promptitude, turned their 
attention more particularly to the manufacture of sporting arms ; wresting supremacy 
from other centres by the cheapness and thoroughness of their work, and the rapid 
improvements in the mechanisms of breech-loading arms. This progress was only 
temporarily checked by the revival of the military trade during the American Civil 
War, and it is upon the sporting trade chiefly that the Birmingham industry 
still depends. 

2i6 The Gun and its Development. 


Of the actual practice pursued by the artisans of the Middle Ages very little is 
known. What the skilled workman learns by long years of toil at his craft he could 
not impart by verbal description, even had he the mind to do so. The guilds, more- 
over, most jealously guarded what they considered to be their trade secrets ; but from 
the many specimens of mediaeval gun-making which are still extant it is apparent 
that there was less of mystery than of art required to make a competent gun- 
smith. It is possible, but hardly probable, that in the lost treatise of Cataneo, ^^Arte 
de fare le Arme e i Fucili" the methods of manufacture current at Brescia in 1577 
were explained in detail ; but we do know, from Cotty and others who mentioned 
the treatise when in the Paris Library, that it described some processes of manu- 

The works of Fucar (1535), N. Spadoni, V. Bonfadini, and other writers of the 
seventeenth century, supplemented by the information obtainable from an inspection 
of arms made in Spain and Italy, enable an expert to form a fairly approximate idea 
of the methods followed. 

In the first place, the forging is the most remarkable : close work, correct in 
shape, and often elegant in design, proves the early gunsmiths to have been able 

The method of making barrels prior to the introduction of Damascus iron from the 
East was to forge them from plates or strips of iron this iron manufactured from old 
horse-shoe nails ^not perhaps so much because of the virtue in the metal as from 
the fact that the nail forgers were the particular smiths who made the gun barrels. 
The method of the Spanish forgers was to weld a number of nails into a short strip, 
which strip was curled into a cylinder, six inches or so in length, and the edges of 
the strip, instead of overlapping slightly, made a complete turn, so that each barrel 
was practically double throughout. The cylinders when welded were pieced together 
end to end, until a barrel of the required length was produced. The cylinders were 
so forged that the grain of the iron, instead of running from end to end of the 
barrel, is disposed circularly, following the round of the barrel in such manner 
as to give the effect of a twist barrel. The advantages claimed for this 
method of manufacture were that the metal by being forged in smaller 
portions was better wrought and purified ; in the event of any defect being dis- 
covered in any one of the pieces after being formed into a cylinder, that cylinder 
could be rejected and a perfect one substituted ; by proportioning the thickness of 
each part to the part of the barrel in which it was to be placed, very little filing of 

2i8 The Gun and its Development.. 

the barrel was necessary. About forty-five pounds of nails were required to make a 
barrel of six pounds ; the bore of the barrel was generally twenty-four or twenty-two, 
and if three feet long it was sometimes as light as three pounds. Martinez del 
Espinar, the gun-bearer of Philip IV., was of opinion that the barrel forty inches 
long should weigh four and a half pounds. These barrels were expensive, costing 
sometimes jQ\2 when filed and bored, and they were used only on fine sporting 

The method of manufacturing the celebrated canons a ruhan current in France 
at the end of last century is stated by MaroUes to be as follows : With a strip of 
much less thickness than is required for an ordinary barrel, a tube is formed as 
though a barrel were to be made. On this chemise is rolled a strip three or four 
lines in thickness, an inch broad, and chamfered to a point on each side. The 
whole is put into the fire and heated a few inches at a time. This strip is called the 
ruban. To roll it round the chemise they use a pair of tongs, of which one beak 
is flat and short and the other rounded and very long. This long arm serves first 
to turn and press the strip of metal on the chemise. It is worthy of note that the 
twist-barrel is not made all in one piece like other barrels, owing to the difficulty of 
rolling a piece sufficiently long to form a barrel of the usual length that is to say, 
about 3 ft. It is made in three pieces, which are afterwards welded together. 
Five feet of incban are required for each foot of barrel. When the riibati is thus 
spirally turned the whole length of the chemise, and made to overlap, edge to edge, 
they give a few heats to forge the whole together, as in an ordinary barrel. The barrel 
is at once passed to the boring shop, and bored until the lining, or chemise, is for 
the most part taken out by the boring bits, and there remains little but the strip 
with which it is covered. One cannot deny that the barrel made in this manner 
possesses a strength superior to that of the ordinary barrels, insomuch as it 
has not, so to say, a weld, or at any rate the weld is almost transversal, and in this 
way better placed to resist the force of the explosion than if it were straight along, 
or even if it were spiral, as in the barrels which are simply twisted tubes. 

Of the other methods of welding, the simplest and most primitive was to take a 
strip the length of the barrel, bend it into a cylinder with the edges abutting for a 
butt weld, but usually slightly overlapping, and then weld the joint throughout the 
length of the barrel. Sometimes a barrel so made, after being heated, was twisted 
upon itself in order to make the grain of the iron take a spiral direction round the 
barrel, instead of longitudinally from end to end : this plan was said to produce a 
stronger barrel. The method of detecting it from a genuine twist was to touch either 
extremity with aqua fortis and note the direction of the grain. To avoid this 


2 20 The Gun and its Development. 

detection the smiths then made the barrel longer than required, and cut off the 
extremities which they could not turn. 

Other methods may be briefly described. Instead of one plain strip the length 
of the barrel, two shorter ones were sometimes used ; a thick one for the breech 
end, a thinner one for the muzzle, the two cylinders joined. The muzzle-piece, 
instead of being of iron or steel, was sometimes of brass or bell-metal, and brazed on 
a common plan for the bell-mouthed blunderbuses. Plain iron barrels were 
drawn, just as other tubes, in 1808, by Benjamin Cook, of Birmingham. His method 
was to roll a block of iron, drill a hole through it, fix a mandrel within the hole of the 
block previously made red-hot, and pass between rolls with taper grooves, repeating 
the process until a barrel of the required length was obtained. This plan was dis- 
continued in a few years. The method adopted in its stead was to roll the barrel 
out of a short strip of iron ; the strip was then turned round a mandrel and passed 
between rolls, the edges being welded as the barrel passed between the rolls ; the 
mandrel, however, was used merely to start the barrel, and did not pass through the 
rolls with it. These methods were strenuously opposed by the welders ; serious 
riots resulted from their introduction, but the plan was so advantageous for musket 
barrels that it was persisted in, and is even now employed in the production of 
barrels of the cheapest grade, for slave-trade and other muskets. 

The wire twist barrels not an imitation of the figure of coiled wire were made 
by Barrois of Paris at the end of last century. On a chemise, wire was coiled and 
welded, or soldered, then at the breech end another coil, until the requisite thickness 
was attained. The barrels when browned were said to have had a very pleasing 
appearance, and Marolles, who tried them, says they were very strong. 

In England the development of the twist barrels appears to have been worked 
out without knowledge of the processes current in France and Spain as detailed in 
the book of Marolles, of which an English translation was published in 1789. 
William Dupein obtained a patent in 1798 for a twist gun-barrel of iron and steel. 
His method was to wind round a rod of iron a strip of steel, then a coating of iron 
or " iron and steel mixed " ; the whole was then welded together, and the iron cores 
bored away so as to leave the barrel of steel, or steel and iron, as desired. In 
1806 J. Jones patented a method of making barrels from scelps or strips coiled 
round a mandrel so that the edges overlapped, and then welded together at the edges 
of the strips. Stub barrels, made from old horse-shoe nails, were greatly in vogue 
at the commencement of this century. The nails were welded together into a 
straight or taper bar, which was turned over a mandrel and welded into a tube 
by uniting the edges ; a different process from that current in Spain and France. 

222 The Gun and its Development. 

These barrels are easily distinguished, being figured ; the figure runs longitudinally, 
the nails being light, with dark lines at the weld where they are joined to each 
other. The horse-shoe nail stub barrel was the first attempt to produce a figured 
barrel in England. When the twist or scelp method was introduced, it soon gained 
favour. Scelp or plain rods were first twisted, afterwards the strips of horse-shoe 
nail iron were twisted in like manner ; and the introduction of the Damascus iron 
followed shortly afterwards (1820). The Damascus iron as first manufactured in 
England by Mr. Wiswould, of Birmingham, and Mr. Adams, of Birmingham, ditfered 
but little in composition from that now used, except that it was made wholly of 
scrap metal. This was gathered into a bloom and welded under tilt hammers, then 
drawn out to the required thickness by rolling, as will be afterwards described. 

Wire twist, often made from a scelp of iron and steel scrap, had a certain vogue. 
It was also a custom of unscrupulous manufacturers to "paint" a plain iron barrel 
with the lap weld as described, in order to make it resemble a barrel manufactured 
of iron and steel, that is, of the more expensive Damascus iron. This practice 
continues for cheap muzzle-loaders; it has never been used on breech-loaders. The 
manufacture of gun iron barrels from scrap has now almost, if not entirely, died out. 
In the middle of this century no other metal was considered its equal, and from 1845 
to 1855 John Clive's mill at Birmingham turned out very large quantities of high- 
class figured barrels. 

In London the barrel-welding industry was never of great importance; since 
1844 no gun-barrel welder has practised in the Metropolis. The last maker was 
W. FuUard, of Clerkenwell, who enjoyed a high reputation for all kinds of sporting 
gun barrels. The military barrels were obtained from the Midlands, whence, or 
from foreign centres, the figured barrels used by London makers are now imported. 
In the Midlands the barrel welders are not so numerous as they were, the demand 
for twisted barrels not being so great as formerly. 

Cold-drawn steel barrels were made in 1865, and for the io.-^ years following. 
They were much superior to the plain iron lap-welded and other rolled barrels in 
use at that period. These barrels were made by forcing blocks of steel through 
dies by means of hydraulic pressure. Owing to the slowness of the process, and 
the great wear upon the machinery and tools necessary to their production, the 
company were unable to compete with barrels made on other methods, and they 
have long been unobtainable. The other processes of gun-making in past periods 
call for no special comment ; the work done depended upon the skill of the artisan 
with hammer, file, drill, and burin, and the methods are so closely allied to the 
modern practice that the description of modern methods will apply equally to those 

Percussion Belgian Gun, showing Ornamentation, 

2 24 The Gun and its Development. 

of other times, due allowance being made for the improvements in tools, and the 
aid which machinery has lent to do quickly what formerly was accomplished only 
by the expenditure of much time and labour. 


The craftsmen of the old guilds, like their present-day equals, the trade 
unionists, made their mistakes. The result of one, as stated, was the loss to the 
Liege industry of the wheel-lock gun ; a more common result was the perpetuation 
of mediocrity. The men whose names are known were artists and inventors, rather 
than craftsmen. Chief among them was Lazarin Comminazo, a master among many 
fine workmen of Northern Italy in the seventeenth century. This school is 
renowned for the beauty in design and accurate execution of the ornamentation 
upon wheel-lock pistols. 

In the production of fine barrels for fowling-pieces the Spanish smiths were 
long unexcelled and rivalled only by their contemporaries in Northern Italy. 
Nicolas Bis, the goldsmith to Philip V., enjoyed an enviable reputation, and his 

Nicolas Bis. Migona. Gabriel del Algora. 

Gun-makers' Marks. 

barrels were sold at prices equalling ^1^40 in the present coinage. He did not 
mount his barrels. Juan Sanchez de Mirvena, gun-maker to Philip III., is 
accredited the ablest artist of his day. Gabriel del Algora and Migona of 
Pistoja were also gunsmiths of the first rank, and of whose work specimens are 
still in request by collectors. Appended are facsimiles of the marks found on 
their arms. 

Caraillio Vittelli of Pistoja, the inventor of the pistol (1540), and Bossi of 
Rome, the inventor of the double barrel wheel-lock arquebus (1623), did more 
than any guild in developing fire-arms. 

In Germany the wheel-lock was very popular. The workmanship of German 
arms of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries particularly in the ornamentation 
is far inferior to the best work of Milan, Paris, and Madrid at corresponding 
periods ; but in Germany the progress, if slow, was general, and the best known 


226 The Gun and its Development. 

names are famous rather on account ot the new mechanisms invented than by 
reason of the workmanship they displayed. 

The ornamentation of fire-arms was an art apart from that of the gunsmith, 
although certain artists devoted their energies entirely to beautifying the work of 
the gunsmith. Jacquinet of Paris has left a book of the designs in use by the 
gun-makers of his day (1660), some specimens of which are reproduced from 
Mr. Quaritch's reprint. 

The productions of Milan enjoyed the widest reputation ; even in France 
a Milan piece was thought of as highly as in England. Pepys in his Diary (1667) 
mentions that French guns had a vogue among English gentry, also that a London 
gunsmith named Truelock possessed considerable reputation. F. Page, the 
gunsmith of Norwich, whose treatise on the art of shooting flying was the first 
of its kind produced in English, praises the Spanish barrel and the Milan fowling- 
piece, giving the results of some curious experiments made with barrels of different 
lengths in 1766 a date at which the English gunsmiths had barely commenced 
to compete seriously with the Continental manufacturers. 

Liege has always been famous for the quantity rather than the quality of its 
productions. The makers there had much to contend against. Not only were the 
guilds all powerful until swept away by the French Revolution in 1789, but 
restrictions of various kinds were from time to time imposed, and under so many 
rulers it is surprising that the trade thrived. More than once the production of 
arms was altogether forbidden ; then none were to be produced for one country \ 
then none sent to another ; now one kind of arm was prohibited, anon another 
variety, and even so late as during Napoleon's rule no guns other than fowling- 
pieces of less than 22 calibre could be made except to the order of his own 
Government or for his allies. 

Lisbon, Copenhagen, Cracow, and Prague have all reared talented gun-makers 
of more than local reputation, and the gunsmiths of Bohemia during the first half 
of the present century obtained a reputation for workmanship and knowledge of 
technique which they have not outlived. 

At the end of last century the Napoleonic wars afforded the English gun-makers 
an opportunity of wresting from their Continental competitors the supremacy 
traditionally theirs. By strenuous effort and directing their genius towards 
developing fire-arms as efficient weapons they ultimately succeeded. English 
makers sought to reduce the weight, improve the shooting powers, and perfect the 
lock mechanism of the sporting gun, and increase the range of the rifle and render 
it an efificient military arm. 

Gun-making. 227 

In this connection much is due to the encouragement given by the Society of 
Arts, and in the pubhshed " Proceedings " of that admirable institution many proofs 
will be found of the early recognition of meritorious inventions connected with fire- 
arms. It was from this society that Western Europe learned the secret of Damascus 
iron, a metal which had been used for many years as the material for gun-barrels 
a gun dated 1613 with a browned Damascus barrel is in the Paris Museum and 
the early employment of which by the English makers in its improved form probably 
did more than anything else to promote the popularity of English sporting guns. 

The name best remembered among the gun-makers of this period is that of 
Joseph Manton, who was not only a clever and talented gunsmith, but an inventor 
not devoid of genius. His guns were deservedly popular, and extraordinarily high 
prices were given for them, seventy guineas being his usual price. He produced 
the best of flint-locks, and fitted them with numerous improvements. The 
gravitating stops, to prevent accidental discharge whilst loading, were probably 
more highly esteemed than any of his inventions relating to self-priming and 
water-tight flash-pans. Like all men of genius, he was occasionally absurd; one 
particularly fatuous invention of his was a vent-hole which allowed the air to 
escape but not to enter. He lost much money in litigation, and died poor at 
the age of sixty-nine. This was in 1835, when Colonel Peter Hawker was at the 
zenith of his popularity. This genial sportsman rendered Manton excellent 
service, and repeatedly eulogises Manton's work, both as practical gun-maker 
and inventor, in his " Instructions to Young Sportsmen." 

Ezekiel Baker made many improvements in locks, sights, and bullet-moulds, 
and was an enthusiastic advocate of the rifle. Other makers as Nock, Durs, 
Egg, Wilkinson, and Smith did much at this time to enhance the reputation 
of London as a centre of gun-making ; for they did not confine themselves wholly 
to one type of gun, but, by oft-repeated experiments, evolved improvements, not 
only in guns and gun parts, but in articles quite foreign to the business of 

The late W. Greener, of Newcastle and Birmingham, was one of this class. Some 
of his more notable inventions relating to fire-arms are elsewhere noted ; he was also 
the patentee of the first electric light publicly used in England (1846), he improved 
the miner's safety lamp, invented a lifeboat which was self-righting by the use 
of water ballast, and gained a prize for a mechanical contrivance by which the 
four gates at railway crossings are worked simultaneously. He was instrumental 
in improving the reputation of Birmingham as a gun-making centre, though his 
denunciations of " trash " made him many enemies, and his whole-hearted attacks 


The Gun and its Development. 

upon the wardens of the Proof House were deeply resented, notwithstanding that 
they led to better administration, improved methods of proving, and the passing 
of the present Gun-Barrel Proof Act, which has done much to protect the public, 
and greatly advanced the interests of English gun-makers. 

Good material and good .workmanship he regarded as the secrets of successful 
gun-making. Regarding his own muzzle-loading percussion guns as near perfection 
as it was possible for arms to be, he was a strong opponent of all breech-loading 
systems. In this conservatism he was equalled by the majority of the London 
gun-makers, who, proud of the reputation achieved by Manton, Egg, and others, 

Flint-lock made by Moorish Gunsmiths at the Author's Factory in 1885. 

were content to adhere to the type of gun those masters of the craft had been so 
successful in making. One notable exception was the late Mr. Lang, who was 
among the first to adopt the Lefaucheux drop-down principle of breech-loading, 
and who saw clearly its good points and its possibilities. With reference to the 
opposition of noted makers, it should be stated that the breech-loaders when 
first introduced were badly made, they shot abominably, and the breech 
mechanisms were not only flimsily constructed, but the workmanship was poor; 
so poor indeed were they that much of the criticism written by W. Greener 
was in itself commendable. Mr. Greener wrote several treatises on fire-arms and 
their manufacture, the chief being "The Gun" (1835), "The Science of Gunnery" 
(1841), and "Gunnery in 1858." He died in 1869. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 229 



Gun barrels may be made of plain iron, as described in the history of gun-making. 
As shot-gun barrels they are worthless with modern explosives. They may be 
made from solid steel, as are rifle barrels ; or they may be made of figured iron 
that is, of a mixture of iron and steel. 

The method of producing this special material is as follows : Pig-iron obtained 
from a mixture of the best ores is placed in a furnace, melted, and cleansed from 
all dross by puddling the dross, being much lighter than the iron, rises to the 
surface, and is skimmed off. When sufficiently cleansed, the draw-plates of the 
furnace are lowered, the heat reduced thereby, and the liquid iron whilst cooling 
gathered and worked into blooms of about i cwt. each. The puddler takes the 
bloom with a pair of tongs, runs with it to the tilt hammer and hands it over 
to the shingler, who, by dexterously turning the metal under the hammer, forms 
it into a square block and passes it to the roller ; it is then passed through the 
various rolls until of the required size, and drawn out into a bar of about ten 
feet in length. The hammering under the heavy tilt condenses the metal, and 
causes the dross and scale to fly off. The rolling increases its ductility and 
tenacity by elongating the fibre. 

If scrap steel is used, it is treated in the same way. But if new metal is 
employed, the finest qualities of rolled bars are chosen; the steels suitable are 
open hearth and ingot steels produced by modern methods, if low in carbon. 
On account of its purity and uniformity, best Swedish steel is most usually 
preferred. Steel is not iinproved by puddling. 

Iron is improved that is to say, purified by the process of puddling; so 
it is usual to take bars of puddled iron, cut them into short lengths, and pile 
them into faggots. These faggots are heated in the draught furnace, welded 
under the tilt hammer, and the block of metal is reheated and hammered for 
the manufacture of the best barrels, to condense the fibre of the metal and 

230 The Gun and its Development. 

increase the specific gravity. After being hammered, the blocks are rolled out 
into bars; these bars are again cut into equal lengths, laid and fastened into 
faggots, heated in the furnace, and welded together and rolled into thin, narrow 
strips. In the above processes the ends of the bloom, or extremities of the rods, 
are cut off and thrown aside, being less dense, and consequently useless for 

The loss in the puddling is about 15 per cent., in the shingling and rolling 
about 14 per cent. ; in reheating the metal it also loses considerably, making 
a loss of about 40 per cent, in those three processes alone ; and there are 
successions of similar losses in each further stage of the manufacture of iron. 
The proportionate amounts of the different descriptions of metals in a barrel 
determine its quality. The old-fashioned laminated steel was composed of nearly 
three parts of steel ; best English Damascus and modern laminated steel contain 
over 60 per cent, of steel ; and the best silver-steel Damascus contains nearly 
75 per cent, of the best worked steel. The amount of steel is determined upon 
before making the metal into faggots for the last time ; if for scelp barrels, the 
strips of iron are twice the thickness of the steel, the faggots being formed of 
alternate layers of iron and steel. In single iron Damascus barrels the proportion 
of iron used is not much less than the steel, but the metal for these common 
barrels does not pass through quite so many processes as that for the best 
barrels, and, although far superior in quality to ordinary iron, its tenacity and 
specific gravity is not so great as that of the very best gun-iron. In best 
Damascus barrels the iron and steel are mixed together systematically. 

In the piling of the iron and steel, it is possible to so arrange the metals that 
many different figures that is to say, direction of the grain of the metal^result. 
In the best silver-steel Damascus, used by the author, the exact proportions of 
iron and steel used are such as have been found by experiment to give the 
greatest strength ; the figure is fine and uniform. By using more iron than steel, 
and keeping to the same arrangement of the metals, a very inferior barrel would 
result The tenacity, durability, and beautiful figure of the barrels depend almost 
entirely on the proportions and arrangement of the steel and iron, the desiderata 
being the placing of the iron in the best position to give the regular and fine figure 
of the finished barrel. 

In piling the iron for the ordinary Damascus twist strips of iron and steel are 
laid upon each other alternately. In another figure the iron, in lieu of being in 
strips, is in rods, which are arranged so that in cross section they resemble a 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 231 

In producing chain twist, diamond twist, and irregular-figured and fancy-figured 
barrels the iron rods are difierently piled. They may be of hexagonal section, or 
rhomboidal, or some square and others parallelopipedonical. Combinations of strips 
and squares are common on the Continent, where also, instead of plain rods or 
bars, the iron and steel used for piling is sometimes of v, l, t and other sections, 
or combinations of various figures. There seems to be no limit to the varieties of 
figure obtainable by the arrangement of the iron and steel in the faggot, and 
afterwards suitably working the metal. 

The next process is to heat and weld the faggot of piled iron and steel and 
roll them into rods of the sizes required by the welder. 

The welder may, for a common barrel, have the metal in the shape of a strip 
about f inch wide and of rhomboidal section. For a figured barrel it is necessary to 
have the rods of square section, and to heat them and twist them upon themselves 
a process which turns the grain of the alternate strips of iron and steel running 
longitudinally from end to end of the rod in a spiral direction. 

In twisting the rods care is taken to keep the edges of the iron and steel 
strips to the outside, for it is the twisting of the different metals that gives the 
various figures in the finished barrel. The steel, being hard, resists the acids, and 
retains a white or light brown hue, whilst the iron, or softer metal, is so acted upon 
by the acid as to be changed into a dark brown or black colour. The manner in 
which the strips are laid and welded together will be found described in the chapter 
on " Barrel Welding." 

Eighteen pounds of prepared gun-iron are required to weld an ordinary pair of 
i2-gauge barrels, which, when finished, weigh, with the ribs, lumps, and loops, but 
little over 3^^ lbs. After bearing in mind this fact, and considering the great expense 
and loss of expensive steel and iron attending the manufacture of the metal, and 
the cost of welding of best barrels, it will no longer be a matter 01 wonderment that 
best guns are expensive to produce. 


The methods practised in manufacturing Damascus barrels differ but in 
unimportant details from each other. The welding of barrels by hand is still 
carried on in the author's factory, and the various processes of barrel-making as 
employed there will be first described and illustrated. 

The square rods of prepared iron are first twisted to give the Damascus figure. 
The rods are about four feet long, and are placed in the forge fire until about 
eighteen inches of the rod is brought to a red heat, when one end is thrust into a 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 233 

square hole in a block made fast to a frame, and the other end fixed into a movable 
head at the other end of the frame ; a rotary motion is then given to the movable 
head by means of a winch-handle and cog-wheels ; the rod, being square, cannot 
turn round with the head, so is twisted in itself. The rod is carefully watched 
whilst twisting, and should one part commence to twist more rapidly than another, 
a man is ready with a pair of tongs to hold that part of the rod, so that it is 
prevented from twisting. This process is repeated until the whole rod is perfectly 
twisted, and a regular figure in the barrel insured. 

When finished twisting, the rod will be round, except the squares at each end 
where held in the block and head, and the four-feet rod will have become shortened 
to about three feet three inches, and have about eight turns to the inch. All 
Damascus barrels must be made of twisted rods, whilst plain twist or scelp barrels 
are made from plain straight rods or ribands. 

Without this twisting of the rod the finished barrel would have the appearance 
of a wire twist barrel, or it might be of a plain barrel if the top or bottom of the 
rod, instead of one of the sides, was kept to the outside of the barrel. By twisting 
the metal the grain is so arranged that it appears on the outside of the finished 
barrel in the form of a number of irregular links or circles. 

The rod prepared, it is either joined to other rods or coiled and welded into a 
barrel singly. 

The cheapest Damascus barrels (single-iron stub Damascus) are made from a 
single twisted bar, rolled out into a riband | of an inch by \ for the fore-end of the 
barrel, and | by ^ for the breech-end. 

Two-iron stub Damascus barrels are made from two twisted rods, each f square, 
and welded together and rolled into a riband f by yg- for the fore-part, and f by ^-^ 
for the breech-end,, with the twisted spirals in opposite directions. 

Three-iron stub Damascus barrels are made from three twisted rods, each 
I by T6) ^"d ^^id and rolled together with the spirals, as shown in the illustration ; 
forming a riband of \ an inch by ^^ for the breech-ends, and | an inch by fV for 
the muzzle-piece. 

Best laminated steel barrels are twisted, and the rods welded in the same 
manner as the stub Damascus, but the rods are composed of superior metal 
containing a larger percentage of steel. 

In laminated steel and stub Damascus barrels it is not usual to use. more than 
three rods in their manufacture. Fine Damascus barrels, as manufactured by the 
Belgians, are occasionally made from four or six rods together, but three are sufficient 
to give a very fine figure. 

Gun-barrel Iron, Twisted, and Laid into a Riband. 

Two-Iron Damascus Barrel. 

Scelp Gun -barrel. 

Three-Iron Stub Damascus Barrel. 

Single-Iron Damascus Barrel. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 235 

The true English Damascus barrel is prepared from three rods, twisted as 
described and put together as shown in the twisted riband, and is known tech- 
nically as three-iron Damascus ; the silver-steel Damascus is similarly made, but of 
different metal piled in a different order. 

The rods having been twisted, and the required number welded together, they 
are sent to the iron-mill and rolled at a red heat into ribands, which have both 

edges bevelled the same way. There are 
usually two ribands required for each barrel, 
one riband or strip to form the breech-end, 
and another, slightly thinner, to form the 
fore, or muzzle, part of the barrel. 
Silver-steel Damascus p^arrei. Upon receiving the ribands of twistcd 

iron, the welder first proceeds to twist 
them into a spiral form. This is done upon a machine of simple construction, 
consisting simply of two iron bars, one fixed and the other loose ; in the latter 
there is a notch or slot to receive one end of the riband. When inserted, the bar is 
turned round by a winch-handle. The fixed bar prevents the riband from going 
round, so that it is bent and twisted over the movable rod like the pieces of leather 
round a whip-stock. The loose bar is removed, the spiral taken from it, and the 
same process repeated with another riband. 

The ribands are usually twisted cold, but the breech-ends, if heavy, have to be 
brought to a red heat before it is possible to twist them, no cogs being used. 
When very heavy barrels are required, three ribands are used one for the breech- 
end, one for the centre, and one for the muzzle-piece. 

The ends of the ribands, after being twisted into spirals, are drawn out taper 
and coiled round with the spiral until the extremity is lost, as shown in the 
representation of a coiled breech-piece of Damascus iron. 

The coiled riband is next heated, a steel mandrel inserted in the muzzle end, 
and the coil is welded by hammering. Three men are required one to hold and 
turn the coil upon the grooved anvil, and two to strike. The foreman, or the one 
who holds the coil, has also a small hammer with which he strikes the coil, to show 
the others in which place to strike. When taken from the fire the coil is first 
beaten upon an iron plate fixed in the floor, and the end opened upon a swage, or 
the pene of the anvil, to admit of the mandrel being inserted. 

When the muzzle or fore-coil has been heated, jumped up, and hammered until 
thoroughly welded, the breech-end or coil, usually about six inches long, is joined 
to it. The breech-coil is first welded in the same manner, and a piece is cut out of 

236 The Gun and its Development. 

each coil ; the two ribands are welded together and the two coils are joined into 
one, and form a barrel. The two coils being joined, and all the welds made perfect, 
the barrels are heated, and the surplus metal removed with a float ; the barrels are 
then hammered until they are black or nearly cold, which finishes the process. 

This hammering greatly increases the density and tenacity of the metal, 
and the wear of the barrel depends in a great measure upon its being properly 

When the barrels are for breech-loaders, the flats are formed on the undersides 
of the breech-ends. If an octagon barrel is required, it is forged in this form upon 

Portion of Gun-barrel Coil. 

a properly shaped anvil ; in rifles the barrels are wielded from thicker ribands and 
welded upon smaller mandrels. 

Another method of making twist barrels is practised in Birmingham, and may 
be shortly described. 

The iron is twisted in much the same way as that already described, but steam- 
power is used to turn the winch instead of hand-power. The forge-fires are blown 
by a steam-fan, instead of the old-fashioned bellows, and the welding is done by 
one man instead of three. This is accompanied by having a tilt-hammer close to 
the forge regulated to give sharp, quick, short blows, and capable of being thrown 
in and out of gear with the foot. The welder is also provided with an anvil, swages, 
mandrels, etc. When he removes the coil from the fire, he has only to knock in a 
mandrel, straighten the coil on the anvil, jump it close by striking it on the floor in 
the usual manner, and place it under the tilt, reheating the coil, and repeatmg the 
process until the barrel is properly finished. The appearance of barrels so welded 
is not so good as that of those hammered by hand, but they are strong and sound, 
and, on account of less care and labour being bestowed on their production, they 
are cheaper than hand-forged barrels. 

The latest method of making the plainer twist barrels is to treat the iron for 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 237 

twisting, and the coils, in a furnace instead of a breeze fire. The theory is that the 
metal is less liable to be burned, the heat being uniform, and freedom from greys 
and faulty welds thereby ensured. Experience does not fully bear out the theory. 
Possibly more can yet be done in this line towards producing a perfectly welded 
and clear barrel. 


Damascus iron barrels are forged in Belgium and at other gun-making centres 
of the Continent by the same methods as practised in England. The chief difference 
between English and foreign welded barrels exists in the quality of the materials ; 
iron of local manufacture being that generally employed. Another difference is 
that barrels of a smaller figure and barrels of fancy figures, already alluded to in the 
paragraph on iron-making, are frequently produced by French, Belgian, and German 

Softness is the characteristic of Belgian iron ; it is found in all their iron manu- 
factures, and is particularly noticeable and objectionable in their barrels. The 
welders prefer the soft metal, as being easier to manipulate, welding more freely, and 
containing fewer surface flaws than hard metal, into the composition of which steel 
largely enters. There is, comparatively, little steel in the Belgian barrel ; there are 
even barrels in which there is no steel, two different qualities of iron serving to 
produce that distinction which is necessary to produce figure in the finished 

The barrel-welders of Belgium are chiefly located at or near Liege. The very 
best barrel-makers who manufacture for the London, Berlin, and Vienna markets 
are to be found at Chaudfontaine or Nessonvaux, both places a few miles from 
Liege. Their method of welding is much the same as that practised by the best 
English welders, but they work at a smaller forge, and, instead of breeze, use a 
mixture of coal-dust and clay. The fires being much smaller, the barrels are heated 
only a few inches at a time, so that greater labour has to be bestowed upon their 

The greatest care is taken to keep the anvils and tools perfectly clean and free 
from scale, so that no foreign matter can get between the coils and thus affect the 
soundness of the welds. 

The type of barrel, which is peculiarly their own, is the fine figured or six-stripe 
Damascus ; in this the figure is very minute, as shown in the illustration, and is 
produced in the following manner : The welders take thirty-two alternate bars of 
iron and steel, and have them rolled into a sheet y gth of an inch in thickness ; 


The Gun and its Development. 

the sheet is then split by a machine into square rods. These rods are then 
twisted after the method of the English welders already described, but to such 
an extent that the rods resemble the threads of a fine screw, there being as many 
as eighteen complete turns to the inch. Six of these rods are then welded to 
each other side by side and rolled into a riband, and the result is a figure so fine 

Fine Stripe Belgian Damascus Barrel. 

that it appears no larger than the eye of a needle, and requires special care in 
browning to obtain markings which can be distinguished. 

For these fine barrels and for some others the old plan of welding on a chemise 
is still in use. The other old plan of plating or welding a thin coating of Damascus 
iron upon a barrel of plain iron has been abandoned, save for very heavy barrels for 

Two-Iron or "Boston" Damascus Barrel. 

duck-guns, etc., which are still not infrequently welded of the cheaper scelp, or 
plain twist iron, then coated with fine figured iron. 

The regular Belgian barrel of commerce is the double-iron Damascus, " two-iron," 
or " Boston " the same barrel by wh'ichever designation known. It differs from the 
English two-iron Damascus in showing fewer white or light-coloured streaks, and 
being usually of coarser figure, obtained by piling larger rods in the faggot and again 
not rolling them to so small a section as is the practice of the English masters. 

At St. Etienne in France, where a manufactory for sporting fire-arms was founded 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 239 

early in the fifteenth century, the Belgian models are followed and the iron of the 
district is soft and ductile. One plan much used in this district, but by no means 
original, is the forming of barrels of two twisted rods to one untwisted ; the appear- 
ance is that of a " barber's pole," a distinct broad stripe of straight-grained metal 
running spirally round the barrel from end to end between a broader band of curled 
Damascus figuring. 

The only centres at which Damascus barrels are made are, in addition to those 
already cited, Brescia in northern Italy, and Suhl in Prussia. 


In the foregoing descriptions of the methods of manufacturing twist barrels it is 
stated incidentally that some kinds are superior to others. The comparative strength 
of gun barrels and of the material employed in their manufacture, the merits and 
disadvantages of chosen varieties, will be found stated in detail later, but as the 
method of manufacture, as well as the material employed, affect the quality of the 
barrel, it is advisable to state here that, so far as known, the strongest forged or twist 
barrel is the laminated steel now usually termed " stub-Damascus," made of three 
twisted rods to the riband. 

The word laminated, as the designation of a gun barrel, arose from the fact that 
early in the last century thin strips, plates, or la7nince of steel, piled alternately with iron 
strips or plates, formed the composite metal from which they were made. They differ 
from Damascus in so far as the iron and steel are differently arranged in the pile, so 
that instead of a decided curl in the figure there is only what may be termed 
" herring-bone " lines running spirally round the barrel from end to end. Technically, 
laminated steel is a name metallurgists apply to faulty steel. It has been used in 
the gun trade for more than half a century in quite a different sense, as here 

By rolling the rods too fine before twisting, by twisting too much, or by twisting 
to a degree the particular metal so treated will not bear, the material of the finished 
barrel is weakened. This, apart from any possible faults in the forining that is? 
welding and shaping of the barrel itself. 

Over-twisting, over-heating, and the endeavour to produce a fine-looking barrel 
at a low price result in weakened material. 

In the twist barrel the iron and steel must be so arranged that perfect welds 
may be easily made ; and so disposed that the fibres of steel and iron intermingled 
shall support each other when the strain of the explosion has to be borne by the 

240 The Gun and its Development. 

barrel. Steel of the hardness that is to say, steel as high in carbon employed in 
the manufacture of Damascus iron would be too brittle to withstand the shock of 
the explosion if used alone ; on the other hand, the iron alone would be too soft 
and the barrel would bulge. By combining the two metals in the best manner, so 
that neither loses its character, they together give to the twist barrel sufficient hard- 
ness to withstand bulging ; sufficient elasticity to ensure that the barrel, after the 
expansion produced by the force of the explosion, shall return to its previous calibre 
and that high tenacity which prevents the bursting of the barrel by the sudden 

The mechanical structure of the twist-barrel, not less than the purity of the metals 
employed, enhances the strength. 

Some barrels of good material may have their strength lessened by faulty 
arrangement of that material, whilst barrels made of much inferior material 
will yet be stronger because of the better use made of that material by 
arranging it with judgment. So far as can be explained, without too greatly 
indulging in technical minuti^, the best proportions of iron and steel can 
be arranged to best advantage in what is known as the three-iron barrels 
whether the iron be piled to give a curly figure when twisted, or to give the plain, 
straight, short-lined figure of the "laminated" steel, is quite immaterial. One is as 
good as the other. Four-stripe barrels are not so good, unless the barrel is heavier, 
thicker, and larger than ordinary, when, of course, a point would be reached when 
the four-stripe would equal the other. In like manner the two-stripe is inferior, 
though, perhaps, not to the same extent. The Belgian six-stripe barrels, apart from 
the softness of the material of which they are made, are over-twisted. Many of the 
fancy-figured barrels are not improved by the manner in which the iron and steel are 
combined, but the reverse. The advantage claimed for the St. Etienne barrel, that 
by the combination of the Damascus with the plain twist greater tenacity in both 
directions is obtainable, is yet to be proved, whilst the method is decidedly 
disadvantageous on other grounds. 

In the trials of barrels by the Birmingham Proof House barrels of thirty-nine 
different varieties obtainable by the Birmingham trade the first place is given to the 
group of English " laminated " steel barrels of three strips. The next best of the 
twist-barrel groups is the " English Damascus " in two strips ; the next best 
"English hand-forged Damascus" in four strips; then "English two-strip 
Damascus " ; and then " English Damascus " in three strips ; then English laminated 
steel in two strips. The first group of foreign-made twist-barrels is the " Pointing '' 
(a fancy figure), eighteenth down on the list in order of merit ; foreign " Damascus 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 241 

CroUe," in three and in four strips, come next, and have the same figure of merit, 
both being placed twenty-fifth on the Hst. At the same trials, when individual 
barrels were tested to bursting or bulging to the extent of 'oi inch, the first place in the 
order of merit was occupied by ' English variegated Damascus," two-strip ; " English 
Damascus," three-strip ; and " English Damascus," two-strip again, all three barrels 
withstanding exactly the same test. The foreign " Damascus " two-strip, and the 
same in three-strip, passed equally to the seventh place, whilst last in order of merit 
were the foreign fancy figured " Pointille " And the foreign " CroUe' Damascus " 
four-strip barrels. 

This report issued in 1891 only confirms what the author wrote in earlier 
editions of this book with respect to the relative strengths of twist-barrels, and has 
now repeated more concisely. 

A figured barrel, notwithstanding the fineness of the figure and the apparently 
high quality of workmanship, is no indication of trustworthiness, much less of 
excellence and unusual strength. To obtain barrels combining the utmost strength 
with lightness and beauty, the best way is to purchase or order from a gun-maker of 
repute and leave the choice to him. It is not always that the type of barrel best 
suited to one calibre or weight will prove so advantageous when used in the 
construction of guns of other calibres or weights. There is only one wnde 
difference in the practice of the English gun-maker and his Continental competitor 
when choosing a barrel for a particular purpose : with the English maker the figure 
of the barrel is the last thing to be considered when determining the type most fit 
for the particular purpose, whereas with the foreign manufacturer it is usually the 
first, and often the only, consideration. The English maker takes a barrel that will 
do best ; the foreign maker the barrel that will look best. 

The decline of the English trade in Damascus barrels is undoubtedly due to 
the introduction of choke-boring. Prior to 1875 Belgian-made Damascus barrels, 
owing to their handsome appearance, were used by many EngHsh gun-makers, 
amongst whom were some of the best London makers. These barrels proved 
quite satisfactory for cylinder-bored guns, but were incapable of withstanding the 
heavier strain of the choke, and numerous complaints were made of such barrels 
bulging at the muzzle. English Damascus barrels contained a larger percentage of 
steel, consequently they were harder and withstood this strain better, but as London 
gunmakers were then dependent upon the Midlands for their supplies it became 
exceedingly difficult to obtain sufficient of these barrels to meet their require- 
ments, and as at this time Whitworth steel was giving great satisfaction for rifle 
barrels, a leading London gun-maker decided to adopt it for shot-gun barrels. As 

242 TiiK Gun and its Development. 

their merits became .better known steel barrels gradually supplanted those of 
Damascus and laminated steel, until to-day nearly all the best guns are fitted with 
steel barrels ; these can be made lighter than Damascus, and offer greater resistance 
to the heavier pressures exerted by modern nitros ; they do not bend or dent so 
easily as Damascus barrels, and the trade in the latter has dwindled away until it is 
now exceedingly difficult to procure reliable English barrels of either Damascus or 
laminated steel suitable for best-quality guns. 


In addition to the seemingly large variety of figured barrels, there is now an 
even greater assortment of weldless barrels available for shot>-guns. These are, for 
the most part, of steel ; some drilled, some drawn, some forged, of steels of many 
qualities and made by different processes. 

First as to the history of the weldless barrel, and its increasing popularity. 

One of the greatest difficulties with which a gun-maker has to contend is the 
"grey" in gun barrels. The "grey" is a defect of small actual importance, but 
decidedly a blemish on a fine weapon and an eyesore in every description of 
gun barrel. 

The numerous twistings and weldings of gun-iron rods and ribands are fully 
detailed in the description of the barrel-welding processes, and it must have 
occurred to the reader that the Damascus barrel is one mass of welds from breech 
to muzzle. This is so. Unfortunately a certain amount of burnt metal, or scale, 
is imbedded within some of these welds, and in the finished barrel this fragment 
of scale forms a "grey," or small speck of useless material, which will not colour in 
harmony with the other part of the barrel, but is made more apparent by the 
finishing processes of polishing and browning. These " greys " may appear some 
time after the gun has been in use, the hard metal composing the barrel being 
eaten into by rust, or the thin coating over the " grey " being worn away. They 
are developed in the inside by the chemical action of the powder gases, and are 
practically ineradicable. Sportsmen must not imagine that " greys " weaken a 
barrel to any appreciable extent, and their development in a gun, after some 
months' or some years' wear, in no way reflects upon the reputation of the 

A barrel eaten right through with rust, at or near the muzzle, may be fired with 
perfect safety; consequently a "grey" is not to be regarded as an element of 
danger; and barrels after thirty years' wear, or after firing upwards of 100,000 
shots, are safe to use, providing they are free from dents, bruises, and rust inside. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 


Best quality barrels can be ruined and many have been in a couple of seasons by 
rough, careless usage, firing when dented, and being allowed to rust inside and out. 

A welded barrel will not stand a blow given sideways. A knock against a hard 
substance will dent one barrel and frequently break the other in the weld. Many 
more guns are ruined by hard knocks than by hard wear. 

Owing to the great difficulty in procuring perfectly welded barrels, gun-makers 
are now discarding tubes of the Damascus variety for those of solid steel which are 
/ree from greys and blemishes^ and if carefully chosen and tested will fill every 
requirement of the sportsman ; in fact, guns of every quality, from the cheapest 
to the best, are being fitted with barrels made from one or another of the numerous 
brands of steel available. The harder the Damascus barrel the greater the liability 
to "greys," and a soft barrel will not make a fine shooting gun. 

Greener's Solid- Weldless-Twist Gun Barrel. 

It is possible to have a twisted weldless barrel. Some years ago the author 
produced his "solid weldless twist," a figured barrel which is admirably adapted for 
sporting and other rifles and in every way suitable for shot-guns. The grain runs 
spirally and the figure is similar to that of the wire twist. The illustration shows 
clearly the method of manufacture from ordinary gun-barrel iron. The twisting 
closes the grain of the iron, making it more dense towards the centre, thus 
presenting an even solid surface for rifling; outside the grain runs spirally from 
end to end. 

Of the steels used for shot-gun barrels, the best known is Whitworth's fluid 
compressed steel. This is a cast steel ; the ingot whilst in a liquid or a semi-liquid 
state is submitted to pressure, with a view to eliminating blow-holes. The top and 
bottom of the ingot are cut off and thrown aside as usual. Eminent metallurgists 
contend that in the process of cooling the contraction of the ingot is so great that 
no pressure which can be brought to act upon it by mechanical means can affect 
the metal at any rate, beyond a few inches from the surface. The process is 
therefore by some regarded as quite superfluous. On the other hand, it is generally 

244 The Gun and its Development. 

allowed that the Whitworth steel is of excellent quality, and it has been used for 
barrels for so many years that its superiority for that purpose may be taken as 
fully proven. 

The Whitworth steel is to be ordinarily distinguished from other steels by its 
brand, and by that alone. This mark is a " wheatsheaf," and London gun-makers 
who have sold guns with these barrels for many years now have their barrels with 
this registered trade mark stamped on the under side and the ordinary lettering 
" Whitworth's steel," etc., on the top of the barrel or the top rib. Whitworth steel 
is higher in carbon than many steels used for gun barrels, but it is sufficiently 
ductile to allow of drilling. 

Steel made by the Siemens-Martin process has been used successfully for shot- 
gun barrels as well as rifles. So, too, tubes of basic open hearth steel, made from 
hematite pig and scrap, and carburized by Darby's filtration process, were tested at 
the Birmingham Proof House in the trials already referred to and obtained a 
high figure of merit. 

Steel barrels may be made by drilling them from the ordinary rolled bar ; they 
may be drawn by rolling out pierced blanks ; they may even be rolled hollow 
by the Mannesmann process, or they may be forged, then drilled. 

The quality of the barrel depends less upon the method of forming the barrel 
than the quality of the metal used the reverse of the twist-barrel, where mani- 
pulation is all important. 

In the choice of a suitable steel, actual experience is a surer guide than the 
indications of theory as to the composition which ought to be the best for the 

The author uses a brand of metal to which the name of Greener's "Wrought 
Steel " has been given, which steel he has found specially suited to the require- 
ments of the gun-maker for shot-gun barrels : in this steel the metal is not 
drawn, but is forged out of a solid bar, and drilled its whole length. Barrels 
so made are of close metal, stronger and denser than any obtainable by other 

The "Wrought Steel" recommended is made of a homogeneous metal, of 
very fine quality, and admirably adapted by its great tenacity, or tensile strength, 
for use in gun barrels. It has been thoroughly tested by the author, as well 
as at the Government Proof House, with very heavy charges, viz. 28 drams 
of powder and 4^ ounces of shot, this charge being equal to nine ordinary 
charges of powder and four charges of shot. This test and many others it with- 
stands perfectly. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 


Unlike " cast-steel " barrels of the old type, " Wrought Steel " barrels bulge 
instead of breaking, and increased strain produces an open burst similar to that of a 
welded barrel, instead of a sharp break or a longitudinal rip, as is found to result 
with imperfect steel barrels. The quality of the metal is such that it will stand 
successively more than double the strain to which a sportsman can submit his gun 
with fair usage. And it will not " rip " or " crack," however sharp may be the 
explosive used. 

The author has made many experiments with various explosives, in order to 
test thoroughly the fitness of this steel for gun barrels, and the results prove that 
there is no material v/hich will excel it, and, as the illustration shows, when tested to 
a bursting strain, the break which follows the bulging of the barrel is similar in 
character to the failure of Damascus under like circumstances. 

Bulges and Burst in a Barrel of "Wrought Steel." 

The bulges were caused by placing a small charge of shot between two felt wads 
(first a thick felt, then the shot, then the thin felt) at the spot where the bulges are, 
and firing an ordinary charge from the gun. 

The burst was effected by increasing the charge of shot between the wads : the 
bulges appeared about fifteen inches from the breech end after firing. 

As many as five thick wads may be placed in any part of the barrel, and the gun 
fired without causing a bulge, but experiments prove that even the small quantity 
of \ oz. shot placed between wads at any place in the barrel will cause a bulge 
even as near as nine inches from the breech. The different sizes of the bulges in 
the illustration were caused by different charges of shot. The shape of the burst indi- 
cates the extent of bulging before bursting. The illustration is reduced to half-size. 

In choosing steel for gun barrels, many things have to be considered. The 
author attaches much more importance to the iron from which the steel is made 
than the amount of carbon contained in it. "Wrought Steel" is made from the 
very toughest iron that can be procured, and as much carbon is used as can be 
allowed to admit of the drilling and boring of the barrel, so that the barrel is both hard 

246 The Gun and its Development 

and tough. These " Wrought Steel " barrels will stand being heated for brazing, 
without deterioration. Messrs. Krupp have introduced a steel which has many 
excellent qualities, and there are several other brands of equally suitable steel 
available for gun barrels. 


The furniture of the gun was formerly made of swaff iron that is, chippings, 
filings, borings, etc., of the iron barrels and other parts, collected, re- welded and 
forged. The material now most used is either puddled iron, ingot iron, or mild 
steel, containing 0-15 of carbon. The ingot iron is preferred as being clearer than 
puddled iron. Mild steel, when case-hardened, is quite suitable for breech-action 
bodies. The bolts are usually of cast steel. 

Stampings, or drop forgings, made by knocking the metal when red-hot into 
dies, have now superseded hand-forged parts, save for one or two minor pieces, as 
the trigger- guard. For hand-forging " best best " puddled iron is used, the forging 
performed in much the same manner as in the ordinary blacksmith's shop. 

The desideratum of good forging is to get the grain of the iron to run in the 
best direction to resist the strain given to the article when finished ; for instance, 
in a gun hammer the strain is along the nose, across the finger, and down the 
body of the cock ; to meet this strain the iron is bent with the grain running up 
the body of the cock, and split at the top, one half being bent at an acute angle to 
form the finger. 

Stamping is accomplished in the following manner: A model of the article to 
be stamped is first made, and one half let into a steel block called a die, the other 
half into another steel block or die, one die forming the bottom, the other the top. 
Die-sinking, as it is called, is a business of itself, and is applicable to many trades 
besides that of gun-making. 

The dies when finished are hardened, and fixed in a stamp worked by hand and 
foot for small work, and by steam for bodies, fore-ends, and other heavy forgings. 
The top die is worked by fastening it into a hammer of wrought or cast iron ; this 
hammer is carried up between two perpendicular rods to the height of 6 or 7 feet, 
by the aid of a belt or rope over a pulley. The top die is raised, and let fall on the 
bottom die, just at the moment that the forger places the iron to form the article, 
at a welding heat, over the bottom die, and the great weight forces the iron into the 
top and bottom die, forming the articles to the shape made in the dies. The man 
working the stamp hammer has it perfectly under his control, and can give a light 
blow or a heavy one as required. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 247 

Stamped work is especially advantageous where the articles have to be 
machined afterwards, as, all being the same size, they fit evenly into the holders. 


As in the ordinary breech-loading hammer gun there are ninety-five separate 
pieces, it is evident that to construct the gun economically there must be consider- 
able division of labour. It would be tedious, in a book not intended for the 
instruction of the master gun-maker in his craft, to describe in detail how each 
piece can be best made, or how the whole can be most advantageously assembled. 
The processes of chief interest to those who use guns are those by which the gun is 
made particularly serviceable as a sporting weapon. By knowing how the gun is 
bored, and by learning in what manner the barrels are nut together, the gun user 
may be able to distinguish a good gun from one of inferior quality ; will understand 
better how a gun should be used, and will be able to form a close estimate as to 
the capabilities both of the various mechanisms of which it is composed and of the 
completed gun as a sporting weapon. It is not to be supposed that gun-making as 
an art can be learned by reading how a gun is, or should be, made ; but the 
technicalities of gun-making may be explained, and, when understood, should 
enable the users of guns to choose arms likely best to fill their requirements. 


The gun barrel, whether forged, rolled, or drawn, is known technically as a 
tube. The first process to which the rough-forged tube is subjected is the rough 
boring. The rough-boring bench is similar to the fine-boring bench illustrated. 
The head carrying the bit revolves rapidly, and the tube, fixed in a carrier,, 
is forced towards the head by means of a hand lever used with a rack on the bench 
as a fulcrum. The bit is a square rod of steel, slightly tapered at the point, and is 
usually about five feet in length. The process of boring is as follows : 

The barrel to be bored is fixed in the carriage, a bit of suitable size selected^ 
and, by means of the rack and crowbar, the bit is forced right through the barrel. 
A bit of larger dimensions is then introduced and passed through, and others of 
still larger dimensions, until the whole of the scales are removed and the barrel is 
bored to the required size. Should the scales not be bored out the barrel is 
returned to the welder, who heats it and hammers down that portion of the barrel 
in v/hich the scales remain, after which it is re-bored. During the process of rough- 
boring, a stream of cold water is kept playing on the barrel to keep it cool. 

248 The Gun and its Development. 

The seitifig, or straightening, of the barrel has then to be effected a nice 
process, on the proper execution of which the utiUty of the arm, whether shot-gun 
or rifle, largely depends. Previous to 1795 there was no reliable method of 
ascertaining when a barrel was or was not perfectly straight. The barrels of the 
finest ancient guns were usually far from straight. Some years ago a fine public 
collection of old small arms was examined by an expert barrel-maker, and it was 
found that in the whole collection, which includes some of the choicest specimens 
of the most renowned makers of mediaeval times, there was but one barrel that was 
then, or had ever been, even approximately straight in the sense of the perfect 
straightness which is now obtainable ; whilst the greater portion were, and always 
had been, decidedly crooked. 

The old way was to look along the outside, and set the barrel as straight 
as possible from the outside. About 1795, however, a barrel-maker of Birmingham, 
named Parsons, introduced a plan of straightening barrels from the inside. His 
method consisted in stretching a string or fine wire inside the barrel from end to 
end, and touching the side at each end. He then hammered that side of the 
barrel until it touched all along the string. The string was then moved to the 
opposite side of the barrel, and if it touched all along the string it was straight. 
The same process was repeated on the top and bottom sides of the barrel. A few 
years afterwards, the method of shading the insides of gun barrels was discovered. 
This simple and reliable plan has since been universally adopted as the standard. 

To determine if a barrel is straight, the setter holds it a few inches from 
his eye, with one end pointing towards the top of a high shop-window. The rays of 
light being horizontal, and the barrel at a slight angle, it shows about half the bore 
in shadow ; if the shade is irregular the barrel is crooked ; if the shade is perfectly 
level from breech to muzzle, on the barrel being turned round, the barrel must be a 
perfectly straight one. To straighten a barrel, the setter should note where the 
swellings appear on the shade, and strike the barrel in that place, with a hammer, 
upon a hollow anvil. Some setters straighten from the indentations in the shade, 
in which case the barrel must be struck on the opposite side to the one shown on 
the indentation in the shade. A skilful setter can make a barrel perfectly straight 
with a few taps of the hammer. A simple expedient for detecting the straightness 
of a gun-barrel is as follows : Place the barrel at a slight angle upon two fixed 
stands ; take a small frame and cover with tissue-paper, and place the same at 
about six feet distance from the muzzle of barrel with a light behind it ; point the 
barrel towards the top edge of frame, and a dark shade will at once be seen upon 
the bottom side of the barrel. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 249 

Turn the barrel round upon the stands, and if the shade keeps a perfectly 
true edge, the barrel is straight. Place at any point between the stands, about 
three inches below the barrel, a lighted lamp or candle. This will cause the barrel 
to bend, and an irregularity in the shade line will be immediately observed ; upon 
the light being removed, the barrel will return to its original form, or very nearly so. 
If the barrel is of steel (as a rifle-barrel), and not twisted, it may be experimented 
upon with the candle four or five times, and the barrel will return to its original 

The importance of the invention and the value of the method cannot be over- 
rated ; and it would be impossible to obtain the extraordinary precision of the 
match-rifles of England and America unless a perfectly straight barrel could be 
made. The first order for Government rifles was executed in Birmingham about 
i8r6, at which time the art of setting barrels was so little known that many of 
these barrels were far from straight. 

In 1892 Mr. J. Rigby, the superintendent of the Government Small Arms 
Factory at Enfield, produced, at the Institute of Civil Engineers, a newly-designed 
machine for detecting any crookedness in rifle barrels. It consisted of an accurate 
lathe-bed and heads, a mandrel which exactly fitted the barrel at the breech end, 
and at a point in or near the centre. The barrel to be tested is placed upon this 
mandrel, the mandrel stretched tightly between the heads of the lathe, and the 
barrel turned on the mandrel. A needle, pivoted on the machine, has a point 
pressed against the inside of the barrel, and the needle behind the pivot is extended 
so that the long arm acts as an indicator, or actuates a mirror or other mechanism, 
which, by the reflection of its hght or other movement, is supposed to show 
whether or not the barrel is straight. The indicator, for instance, showed when 
the needle-point was moved by the barrel from the position it had assumed ; as it 
followed the barrel, it must have been that the inside of the circumference of the 
barrel, in lieu of describing a circle, was describing an ellipse ; therefore the barrel 
was not straight. The same deflection would be shown if the bore of the barrel 
instead of being quite circular had been slightly oval ; consequently the machine as 
a test failed to detect what the eye of a practised workman would at once have 

When the boring and straightening is completed, the tube is placed in a lathe, 
the extreme breech end and the muzzle turned to the required thickness, and is 
next removed to the grinding shop, where, on large rough stones, revolving rapidly, 
the tube is ground down to the turning marks and other gauges. The grinders 
have a method of allowing the tube to revolve in their hands at half the rate of 

250 The Gun and its Development. 

the stone, and have acquired such skill that many would be puzzled to say whether 
or not the finished tube had been turned or ground. Again and again tubes taken 
from the grindstone and spun between dead centres on the lathe have been found 
almost as true as a rod could be turned. 

Great difficulty exists in turning a light tube such as used for gun barrels ; 
the method employed with rifle barrels fails because the lighter barrel is more 
easily moved from the true centre by the pressure of the cutter, so that a tube 
turned with the best possible appliances is often more crooked than one roughly 
ground by the " rule of thumb " method described, and found to be the best in 

The tube, after being smoothed to take out the marks of the stone, has a plug 
screwed on the breech, and is sent to the Proof House and submitted to the test 
prescribed for barrels of its size, and the charge of powder and load of lead used are 
given in the Scale of Proof Charges in the next chapter. This first, or provisional 
proof, is a gun-maker's proof; it determines, or should determine, whether or not 
the barrel is flawed. If passed, the barrel-welder's liability ends. 


The shooting powers of the gun depend chiefly upon the shape and finish given 
to the interior of the barrel by the processes of chambering, fine-boring, choke- 
boring, lap-polishing, etc., performed at various stages of the gun's manufacture, but 
described here consecutively. 

It must be borne in mind that prior to the introduction of breech- loading the 
majority of the shot-guns and smooth-bore muskets made were very roughly bored ; 
the leading gun-makers certainly endeavoured to have the barrels smooth inside from 
end to end, but very few troubled to have them polished from end to end by hand 
lapping. Before 1870 next to nothing was known of the art of gun-barrel boring ; 
it was thus that so often the right barrels shot better than the left being the result 
of accident, not design, for until choke-boring was practised there was no certain 
way of improving the shooting of a gun. 

The shooting qualities were taken for granted. If a gun had a barrel externally 
of the shape found to give good results, and was free from rings and roughness 
inside, it was assumed that it would shoot well if the right charge was used with it ; 
but most often the gun was not tested for this by the maker. A few gun-makers 
shaped the barrels inside more or less after a premeditated plan, the most usual 
being to polish the gun at breech and muzzle, leaving it of slightly smaller calibre 
midway, as will afterwards be described. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 


In Birmingham, prior to 1875, the ranges available for testing guns at targets 
could be counted on the fingers, and London gun-makers were even worse supplied. 
The author's method of choke-boring, introduced in 1874, required targets upon 
which the results of his processes could be shown. It is not possible, even at this 
date, to predicate exactly what the shooting of a barrel of a given shape and size 
will be ; it may be approximately estimated, but that is not sufficient, and each 
barrel must be repeatedly shot and the targets inspected and its performance 

Shooting Range in W. W. Greener's Factory at Birmingham. 

calculated from the averaged results of the various shots made with that barrel. In 
no other way is it possible to guarantee that any gun will shoot as close or as strong 
as the average gun. 

Two iron plates at the end of a forty yards' range used to comprise the whole 
furniture of the testing ground, more often a single plate had to suffice ; thus at 
least 160 yards had to be walked to inspect one shot from each barrel. The author 
invented folding targets closing one over the other and actuated by wires from the 
firing point. The plan is now generally adopted, saving much time and reducing 

252 The Gun and its Development. 

the heavy cost of gun testing. At the author's range in the Birmingham factory 
there are pits for firing rifles, plates for testing ball guns, and various instruments 
for testing velocity, pressure, recoil, penetration, etc., but the folding targets, as 
showing the shooting of the gun most readily, are always first employed. If not 
satisfactory at the target, the barrel is at once altered and this is often done and 
the gun shot again and passed in less time than it would take some London gun- 
makers to drive from their shops to the shooting ground. It has been found that 
with the author's system guns can be fired and the patterns inspected at the average 
rate of thirty seconds a shot. 


Of all processes through which the shot-gun passes in the course of production, 
the fine-boring is the most important, as upon its proper execution the shooting of 
the gun is entirely dependent. In the term " fine-boring " is included all that is 
done to the inside of the gun barrel subsequent to the preliminary rough-boring. 

The Fine-boring Bit and Packing. 

previously described as being done when the barrel was a roughly-forged or drilled 
tube. It includes fine-boring, choke-boring, chambering, and lapping, or final 

The fine-boring, by which the inside of the barrel is enlarged to exactly that 
diameter required to give the best shooting, is done upon a similar bench to the 
one used for rough-boring. The bit, however, revolves at scarcely half the speed of 
the rough-boring bit, and cuts on one edge only. A weight and chain are used, 
instead of the crowbar and rack, to force the barrel to the bit. The bit is made to 
fit the barrel by means of a spill of wood, packed with strips of paper called " liners," 
between the wooden spill and the bit, as shown in the illustration. 

By using more packing or a larger " spill," the same bit may be made to bore 
several sizes out of the barrel. Usually the bit has but one sharp edge ; the other 
is rounded and acts as a burnisher, whilst the two remaining edges are prevented 
by the " spill" from coming into contact with the barrel. The amount of " cut" is 
regulated by the packing ; usually one paper liner is inserted between the bit and 
the spill, and the thickness of that paper is bored from the barrel when the bit is 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 


next inserted. The bit is ground quite square, and, being twenty inches or more 
long, it centres itself in the barrel, and has a tendency also to keep the barrel quite 
straight, for the barrels are fixed in a carrier which plays quite freely on the bed of 
the bench and the bit fits but loosely in the revolving head of the machine. The 
bench commonly used is of the type shown. 

When bored up to the desired size, the barrels are chambered. A cutting tool 



Hl;i'':!',i.i,,. .!il 

Gun-barrel Boring at W. W. Greener's Factory. 

the exact size of the cartridge to be used is the reamer last to be inserted ; and this 
is forced in whilst slowly revolving in a lathe. The chamber must be in exact line 
with the bore of the barrel, so a guide projects beyond the cutting portion of the 
tools and centres in the bore of the barrel, which it exactly fits. It is generally 
requisite to again bore the barrels, as they are needed to be of different sizes, 
according to the charge to be used or the closeness of shooting desired ; whereas 
the chamber is always of one size, and the leg of the chambering tool must fit the 

254 The Gun and its Development. 

bore of the barrel when of that size which it is deemed will be the smallest ever 
likely to be required. 

The proper shape for the chamber where it unites with the base of the barrel is 
a not too abrupt cone. That shown in the illustration gives the exact dimensions 
of the standard 12-bore. Sometimes it is required to have the cone longer; if 
the barrel is larger inside, with the same sized chamber, the cone will, of course, 
be slightly shortened at its fore-end. 

As to the shape of the interior of the finished barrel. A true cylinder from 
chamber to muzzle is rarely found ; such a barrel does not shoot close enough to 
satisfy either sportsmen or gun-makers. What is known as the cylinder is a barrel 
which is not "choked" that is to say, there is no point between the chamber- 

.074 ... 

The 12-bore Cartridge Chamber. 

cone and muzzle of greater or smaller diameter than comprehended in a difference 
of less than five-thousandths of an inch. 

In the illustration, page 261, the three usual forms of "cylinder" barrels are 
shown. No. I is the true cylinder; No. 2 is shghtly larger at both ends than 
in the middle, a style of boring known as " relief" ; and No. 3 is a more or less' 
gradual taper from breech to muzzle. 

The old-fashioned way of boring was accomplished by inserting the bits in the 
muzzle and boring towards the breech. This was simply because it was more 
convenient for the borer. The introduction of the breech-loader so facilitated the 
inspection of the barrels that fine-boring from end to end became a necessity ; yet 
the barrels were still bored from the muzzle ends. Before then the breech ends 
of muzzle-loaders could be neglected with safety. Boring from the breech end 
alone, it is almost an impossibility to form a perfect cylinder to within a iew inches 
of the muzzle ; the taper from the breech to that point, by wear of boring bits 
and compression of the liners, may reach 3,oooths of an inch. If bored from 
both ends alternately, from the same cause the barrel will be slightly constricted 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 255 

in the centre. Thus it is that the forms of old boring are as described ; the forms 
were the necessary result of the manner of boring ; though this, of course, does 
not preclude the possibility of any one form being the outcome of a preconceived 
design. The only method of producing a true cylinder is by lapping out after 


On the authority of M. de Marolles, who wrote in 1781, it is asserted that 
choke-boring was known to, and practised by, the gun-makers of his day. He 
writes : " An iron or wooden mandrel, fitting the bore, is furnished at one end with 
small files, which cut transversely only. This tool, put into the muzzle of a barrel 
and turned round by means of a cross-handle, forms a number of superficial 
scratches in the metal, by which the defect of scattering the shot is remedied. 
One effect of this plan is that of destroying the smoothness of the barrels within, 
rendering them liable to foul, and causing them to lead sooner, after the discharge." 
Deyeux, who published the "Vieux Chasseur" in 1835, writes : "I have seen these 
results produced by a barrel slightly opened at the muzzle, choked in the centre, 
and freed at the breech, such as some good smiths pretend is best to make them. 
I have seen the same results by a barrel choked two sizes at the muzzle, and by a 
perfectly cylindrical gun." Again, at page 36 : " The barrel whose muzzle is too 
much choked seldom makes a good pattern in the centre of the target." From 
these statements little more is to be learned than from the following advertisement, 
which appeared in the St. James's Chronicle, May 7th, 1789 : 

" To Gentlemen Sportsmen. Guns matchless for shooting to be sold, or twisted barrels 
bored on an improved plan, that will always maintain their true velocity, and do not let the 
birds fly away after being shot, as they generally do with guns not properly bored. The 
shortest of them will shoot any common shot through a whole quire of paper at go yards with 
ease. This method of boring guns will enable every shooter to kill his bird, as they are sure 
of the mark at 90 yards. A Tryal of their performance, as above, may be seen at Mr. Mellor's, 
Greyhound Lane, near the Infirmary, Whitechapel, London, where he bores any sound barrel 
for two guineas, to shoot in the same manner, and makes them much stronger than before ; 
has also twisted double-barrel guns, famous for partridge shooting, and all double proved. 

"Note. No guns sent to strangers without the money, nor letters received unless the postage 
is paid." 

It is, therefore, apparent that the gun-makers knew the need for increasing the 
range of their guns and concentrating the shot to the centre of the target, and, 
knowing this, it is probable that they sought to effect an improvement by altering the 
shape of the bore; but from the statement of Deyeux -and his statements are 
similar to those of other writers of the time it would seem that the methods had 


The Gun and its Development. 

little success. If a gun constricted at the muzzle to the extent of two sizes did not 
shoot better than one cylindrically bored, or one widened at both breech and 
muzzle, it is evident that the secret of the modern choke was not discovered. The 
plan specified by M. de Marches seems the most correct in principle, although the 
benefit to be derived from it would affect the first few rounds only, the scratches 
thrown up by the file quickly wearing away. 

The invention of choke-boring has been claimed by many, and is usually 
attributed to the American gunsmiths. The first patent for choke-boring was 
granted to Roper, an American gunsmith, on April loth, 1866, thus preceding 

Roper's Detachable Choke-muzzle. 

Pape, the English claimant, by about six weeks. Roper's invention consisted of a 
removable muzzle, and was applicable to single guns only ; it had but little sale 
owing to a serious fault in the breech mechanism, which was of a revolving 
magazine type. The author in 1885 secured one of the original Roper guns and 
gave it an exhaustive trial ; he found that with the attachment there was an improve- 
ment in the closeness of the patterns, but all were below the standard of a good 
modified choke. Mr. J. W. Long, in his book on "American Wildfowling," states : 
"Just when choke-boring was first practised, or who is rightfully entitled to the 
honour of its invention, will probably never be known. There have been scores of 
claimants, however, and one, Mr. Pape, of Newcastle, England, so far made good 
his claim as to receive recognition as the inventor from the proprietors of the 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 257 

London Fields who appointed a committee of sportsmen to investigate and if possible 
determine the matter. Mr. Pape, however, is not the original inventor, for he 
dates his discovery back only to the year 1866; and though he may have found 
out its peculiarities by personal effort and without knowing it to have been 
previously practised, yet he put his revelation to little use, and, it would seem, 
hardly appreciated its value." Pape's claim would appear to have been attached as 
an afterthought to the specification of a patent for a breech-loading action, and no 
details are given as to how he proposed to carry out the suggestion ; the bore of his 
gun was constricted at the muzzle from 12 to 13, and although this undoubtedly 
gave better shooting than a cylinder, its performance fell far behind that of a modern 
choke-bore. Again quoting Mr. Long : " I have most positive and reliable proof 
of its having been practised in this country, according to the most approved 
manner of the present day, over fifty years ago ; the earliest person to whom I 


Side and End Views of Bit for Choke-boring (from Mr. Long's book, 1879) 

have been able to trace a knowledge of it being Jeremiah Smith, a gunsmith, of 
Southfield, R.I., who discovered its merits in 1827." The evidence was never 
published in detail. No other writer appears to have given so much consideration 
to this question as Mr. Long, and his book is full of many interesting references 
to the history of choke-boring. He appears to have first heard of " close shooting " 
guns about the fall of 1870, and his first gun, a muzzle-loader bored on the choke 
principle, was made in July, 187 1, by Tonks, of Boston, Mass. It was a 10-bore 
weighing a little over 9 lbs., and some exceptionally good patterns are credited to it. 
At its first trial, using four drams of powder and one ounce of No. 4 shot, 151 pellets 
to the load, it placed 68, 73, and 76 pellets in a i ft. sq. at 40 yards. There 
appeared to be considerable difficulty in shooting straight with these guns, and it 
was found necessary to aim low in order to hit the game. The ^x^i public notice of 

258 The Gun and its Development. 

choke-boring- is stated by Mr. Long to have been contained in a circular issued in 
1872 by Mr. J. L. Johnson, of Young America (Monmouth, 111.), but the circular is 
nothing more than an assertion that the advertiser has discovered the secret of 
making guns to shoot close and carry farther, and that he will " guarantee them to 
put the whole charge in a 30 in. circle, or from 45 to 60 pellets No. 4 in a foot square 
at 40 yards ; as from 10 to 20 is the average shot for an ordinary gun, the range is 
increased from 20 to 30 yards." While Johnson was at work in his shop a man 
named Faburn endeavoured to discover the secret. He was not allowed to get the 
breech pin out of the gun, and from his observations of the muzzle end of the barrels 
he concluded that a short recess had been cut out just at the back of the muzzle ; 
he therefore contrived an expanding bit to do this boring, and on June 25th, 1872, 
secured a patent for it. This bit, which ostensibly carried with it the right to 
"choke-bore " barrels, had a large sale throughout the United States, and every 
gunsmith claimed the knowledge of choke-boring, but endeavoured to keep the 
method of boring a secret. 

From Long's evidence one gathers that considerable trouble was caused by 
leading in choke-bored barrels, and he advised the continual dipping of the muzzles 
into water to counteract this ; this defect was confirmed by a letter written later by 
" Engineer " to the Editor of the London Field. 

An American 6-bore muzzle-loading gun, the property of Fred Kimble, a 
companion of Long's, was sent over to England for trial, and while it shot well with 
large shot it did not give regular results, making but one really good pattern out of 
every three shots, which would point to the conclusion that although the Americans 
were undoubtedly the pioneers of the choke-boring system, they had not really 
progressed far beyond the elementary stage, and their guns still continued to lead, 
threw irregular patterns, and did not shoot straight. 

The author's attention was first drawn to the question of " Close Shooting " 
guns by the Turf, Field and Farm trials held at New York in 1873. The represent- 
ative of the Greener gun at these trials only had cylinder guns bored upon the same 
plan as used at the 1866 trials. Unfortunately, as he had but little knowledge of 
guns or shooting, the information obtained as to the system of boring then in vogue 
in the United States was exceedingly meagre, and although English- made guns were 
successful at this trial, it was openly stated that the winning guns had been re-bored 
in America. 

The author's first intimation of the true choke formation was derived from 
the instructions given in a customer's letter written in the early part of 1874; 
this described the choke, but did not of course say how it was obtained ; hence 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 259 

numberless experiments, rendered doubly difficult by the lack of suitable tools, were 
necessary before regular shooting could be relied upon. 

The first barrels were bored with the old-fashioned four-square bit commonly 
known as a reamer ; this, though a perfect instrument for the true cylinder bore, was 
quite unsatisfactory for choke-boring, the shape of the tool at the extreme end creat- 
ing a roughness behind the shoulder of the choke ; this caused the barrel to lead, and 
spoilt the shooting of the gun. Having as the result of these experiments discovered 
the true shape of the choke and being convinced from the results obtained that guns 
so bored gave superior results to the ordinary cylinder, the next difficulty was to 
devise tools that would bore correctly and smoothly. These after much labour and 
expense were obtained, and a perfectly bored choke-bore gun was produced. 

Mr. Teasdale Buckle, in his book " Experts on Guns and Shooting," pubHshed 
Sampson Low, Marston & Co., says : 

" The introduction of choke-boring may be regarded as W. W. Greener's greatest achieve- 
ment ; his previous inventions had shown his cleverness ; this one made him famous throughout 
the world. Mechanism in a mechanical age like ours is not easy to grow famous upon. But 
choke-boring as brought out by Greener in 1874 altered the whole system of gun boring, acd 
made close shooting the servant of the gun-maker, where before it had been his will-o'-the-wisp. 

" Good shooting guns at that time were accidents to a great extent ; with such an accident 
Mr. Pape had won at a public trial with a pattern of less than 130. That is our opinion of the 
matter, and moreover, no English maker could guarantee any such pattern as 130 until Mr. 
Greener showed the way in 1874." 

The author has never claimed to be the inventor of choke-boring, although it is 
generally attributed to him. All that he wishes to say is that the form of choke he 
produced, which has now been generally accepted, and the method of producing it, 
are of his own invention; and the Field trials, reported fully in Chapter 13, con- 
clusively proved that, in spite of the many claimants to the invention, many of 
whom had, according to their own statements, had knowledge of the system for 
years, none were able to produce guns equal in shooting powers to those bored 
upon the Greener system. 


The term choke-boring appears to have originated with the French as in the 
writings of some old French authors choke-boring is mentioned, and called Hrangle 
for want of a better name and been adopted by the English and Americans. To 
an English gun-maker the terms mean simply " barrels whereof the diameter of the 
bore at the muzzle is less than the bore at some point behind the muzzle, other 
than the chamber," while any gun barrel constricted at the muzzle to the extent of 

26o The Gun and its Development. 

005 inch may be termed a modified choke. A full choke may be con- 
stricted to the extent of '030 to "040 inch. Some makers constrict more, 
but past a certain limit this defeats its own object by diminishing the pattern, 
though the larger the bore the greater must be the constriction at the muzzle. 
The constriction of the bore, to be effective, must finish close to the extremity of 
the barrel ; this same constriction, if placed 3 or more inches from the muzzle, fails 
to throw the shots close together, but will give better penetration than a cylinder- 
bored barrel. There are two distinct plans of choke-boring ; the first, and probably 
the original method, is to bore the barrel cylinder for nearly the whole length, 
contracting it from 2\ to 3 inches from the muzzle, like No. 6 in the illustration on 
page 261. 

The other plan, similar to that patented by Faburn in 1872, is to enlarge the 
bore immediately behind the muzzle, and extending 3 or 4 inches towards the 
breech, as shown in No. 4. 

A modification of the "recess choke "is shown in No. 5. In this a kind of 
double choke is formed by enlarging the barrel from the first choke towards the 
breech in a more elongated form. 

There is still another modification,, which consists of gradually enlarging the 
barrel from the breech to within 2 or 3 inches of the muzzle. 


Barrels intended for choking are left one or two sizes smaller than the cartridges 
they are intended for that is to say, the 12-bores are left 14-bore or 13-bore, and 
the barrels are bored up within three inches of the muzzle with a fine-boring bit, 
using a spill and liners as already described. The bit, however, is not allowed tO' 
pass right through the barrel, but is withdrawn before reaching the muzzle. This is 
a very tedious process, it being a difficult matter to get the metal from that part of 
the barrel nearest the muzzle. When sufficient metal has been taken from the 
barrel it is removed to another bench, where another bit is inserted revolving at 
a slower speed. This bit is of a different nature to the boring bit, it being cham- 
fered off towards the point in order to shape the cone of the choke and the flat, 
between the top of the choke and the muzzle of the barrel. By the use of 
this tool the choke is kept perfectly straight and true with the barrel; but it is 
not used by all makers some shape the choke instead with an ordinary taper 
boring bit. 

Instead of boring out the barrel, it is a practice with some makers to bore the 
barrel cylinder, or nearly so, then constrict the barrel tube from the outside by 


\<;mMmMMMM/M ( ^//////////////W^^ 


Various Old Styles of Boring. 
I. True Cylinder. 2. "Relief" Boring. 3. Ordinary Cylinder. 


Wmm //M/m/////////////////////////^^^^^^^^ 


4. Recess Choke. 

Various Choke-bores. 
5. Recess Choke in Choked Barrel. 

6. True Choke, 

262 The Gun and its Development. 

forcing the muzzle into a die until the internal diameter at the muzzle is about two 
sizes smaller than elsewhere on the barrel. This is undoubtedly cheaper, and was 
often first resorted to by makers who had not the necessary machinery to 
bore out the barrel in the usual way. It is therefore regarded and doubtless 
rightly as a makeshift plan. 

Some London gun-makers have followed a system of choking at the breech 
end of the barrel. At the chamber, the barrel is a 1 2 gauge ; at the muzzle end, 
and for the greater length of the barrel, the bore is only 20. It is claimed for this 
principle that a gun of better balance can be constructed ; an advantage which is 
outweighed by the inferior result obtained as a shooting weapon. The shot jams 
in the barrel, and the pellets lose their spherical form, taking a wider flight. The best 
shooting is obtainable with barrels which have their bore as near that of the calibre 
of the case as possible, and this size should be maintained, and the choke formed 
near the muzzle, as already specified. 


The final polish of the barrel, to which regularity of shooting is due, is a process 
which has not been in vogue among the gun-makers generally until the last few 
years. The well-known first-class gun-makers knew the value of the process, and the 
guns of the late Westley-Richards and the late W. Greener, which were remarkable 
for the closeness of their shooting, were polished by pushing to and fro in the 
barrel a well-fitting long lead plug, coated with fine emery powder and a lubricant. 
This process was called "draw-boring." The process, with the aid of modern 
machinery, is not now so long or so expensive, whilst it is more efiiciently and 
thoroughly done, as the lap, as well as passing up and down the barrel from end to 
end, also revolves rapidly. A perfectly true and highly polished and even surface 
from chamber to choke is thus obtainable. The lap consists of an iron rod, around 
which is cast a leaden case of the same size as the diameter of the barrel to be 
lapped. The lead is kept constantly covered with a mixture of emery and oil. 

This lap is fixed into a head revolving 650 times a minute. The barrel is fixed 
on a carriage upon a lathe bed, and the lap having been inserted, and set revolving, 
the barrel is moved backwards and forwards along the lap, in order to perfectly 
level the inside of the barrel and remove any slight inequalities that may have been 
occasioned by irregularities while boring, and also to polish it as fine as possible, 
which is necessary if first-class regular shooting is to be obtained. It also renders 
the barrel more easy to clean, and less liable to lead or foul. This process requires 
very great care, owing to the great speed at which the lap revolves. The barrels 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 263 

being bored very thin at the muzzles are likely to bend, or the rib to be loosened 
or twisted ; so, during this process they are kept cool by the frequent application of 
cold water. 


After proof the gun-maker examines the tubes, and re-sets them if made crooked 
by the strain of the enormously heavy proof test*. It is from the stock of tubes 
that the barrels are chosen suitable for guns of particular weights. 

The workman called in the Birmingham district the "barrel-filer," and in 
London the "barrel-maker," takes the tubes, and for a double gun joins two 
together, fits top and bottom ribs, the lumps, loop, etc., required for the breech- 
action. The most important point is the jointing of the barrels, by filing flats 
on the inner sides in order to get the tubes closer together, and at such an angle 
to each other that the axes, if continued beyond the muzzle, will converge at 
sixty feet beyond. If the barrels were not closed in they would shoot " wide " 
that is, the right to the right, the left to the left, of the mark at which the gun 
is aimed. This is due to the fact that, being in juxtaposition, the inner side 
of the barrel, reinforced by its neighbour, does not expand equally with the outer 
side ; barrels placed one above the other, instead of side by side, shoot high and 
low instead of right and left. The breech end of the barrel being of necessity 
stouter than the fore-part, the gun would be unwieldy unless jointed in. One 
barrel being brazed to the other at the breech, the thinnest sides are practically 
reinforced by the metal of the neighbouring barrel, so that the inner side is in 
reality stronger and less likely to burst than the outer and thicker side of the 

Next in importance is the fitting of the lumps : the best plan is to dovetail in 
the bottom lump as shown in the illustration (page 265), and then to braze the 
whole together for about 3 inches up the barrels from the breech-ends. When the 
barrels are wanted for wedge-fast guns, the top lump, or extension rib, is brazed 
on at the same time. The space between the barrels is packed at intervals with 
pieces of tinned iron. The ribs are then soft-soldered on, and the loop fitted in. 

It is a common practice with foreign gun-makers to braze their barrels together 
from end to end, and to hard-solder the ribs to the barrels. This is most 
injurious, as the barrels are made crooked by the process, and cannot again be 
straightened efiectually; this is particularly the case with twist-barrels. With 
steel barrels the result is even more disastrous, the heat required being more 
than sufficient to ruin the qualities of some steels used for barrels. 

264 The Gun and its Development. 

The barrels are struck up from end to end with flat strikers or oblong files^ 
^hich are used like joiners' planes, and serve to take off all inequalities on 
the barrels and ribs. In a well-filed pair of barrels the rib will be seen to be level, 
straight, and nicely taper, and the barrels round and even, and free from flats. 

The slope of the tubes to a large extent fixes the shape of the barrels ; it is 
impossible in guns of usual weight to have the barrels a perfect taper from breech 
to muzzle. The rib is so shaped as to give the right elevation to the gun, and 
is made hollow, and often swamped, so that the barrels may be light and the gun 
balance well. These points have all to be considered before the tubes can be 
assembled, and any error of judgment will undoubtedly result in a gun either 
heavier or lighter than was required to be made, or one that is ill-balanced and 
clumsy to handle. The barrel-filer has practically finished his work when the tubes 
are put together, the lumps, etc., fixed, and the ribs shaped, soldered on, and in 
place ; but, as a convenience in manufacture, the finishing touches to both rib and 
barrels are usually deferred until the gun is practically completed. The top rib 
may be grooved, or it may he flat ; it may be left plain, or it may be engine-turned, 
file-cut, roughened, or engraved, at the choice of the sportsman. 


Numerous subdivisions are comprised in the branch of gun-making designated 
breech-action making. In the first place, it includes machining the bodies and 
other parts of the breech-action mechanism and locks, and of this some particulars 
will be found under the heading " Machine Work." 

The other important divisions are jointing, filing, and fitting up. Jointing 
consists of fitting the barrels to the breech-action a matter of importance, seeing 
that upon it depends not only the " life," but the safety of the gun. The jointer 
takes the body and fore-end of a breech-action in the machined state, and first proceeds 
to square the holes in the body, and drift them out to the proper size. He next 
files the lump, or lumps, on the barrels to the gauge of the holes in the body, and 
gradually eases the body on to the barrels, by smooth-filing the lumps on the 
barrels. The extractor is then fitted into the machined recess, and the face or end 
of the barrels squared, the joint or hinge-pin is inserted, and the hook on the 
bottom lump cut for it ; and the breech-ends of the barrels, by blacking and 
smoothing (which has to be repeated many times), brought to fit closely and bear 
hard against the face of the standing-breech, and the flats of the barrels firmly 
bedded upon the bottom of the breech-actions. The smoking, or blacking, and 
easing, have to be repeated until every surface fits evenly and closely against the 

Section of Hammerless Breech-action, showing the Working and Bearing Parts. 

266 The Gun and its Development. 

other, and very careful and skilful workmanship is necessary in this branch to 
ensure perfect fitting. Unless this work is well done, and the holding- down 
bolts well fit, the breech-action will wear shaky with very little use. The jointer 
also prepares the hole for the under-bolt in top-lever guns, and in double-grip 
actions he fits the lever. In jointing the Anson and Deeley hammerless guns, the 
hinge or joint-pin being usually solid with the body of breech-action, the process 
of bedding down the barrels and bringing them to bear against the face of the 
standing-breech have to be combined. 

It will be seen from the drawing on page 265 that the breech-ends of the barrels 
describe the portion of a circle in opening and shutting, and that the back portion of 
the bottom steel lump, being filed on the circle, also describes the part of a circle, and 
the slot in the body, being shaped to correspond with the circle on the lump fitting 
against the circle in the body, causes part of the strain of the discharge to be 
removed from the hinge-pin, and distributed over the body of breech-action. 
The extension rib must be accurately fitted, yet made to work in and out with 
perfect freedom. It is the proper attention to these and other points that adds so 
greatly to the cost of guns. 

From the illustration it will also be seen that the extractor is in one piece, 
the leg being round. The extractor is kept from turning, when out of its " bed " in 
the barrel, by a small rounded projection sliding in a groove in the extension rib. 
This plan was devised by the author many years ago, and is undoubtedly the best 
method of guiding the extractor. The other, and general, plan is to put a second 
leg on the extractor above the longer one. This requires a hole to be drilled in the 
barrels just where they are thinnest, and has been the cause of many barrels 
bursting at the breech. 

The filing is the shaping of the breech-action body ; in hammer guns it includes 
other things, when the first thing done is to drill and plug out the nipple and 
striker holes. The striker holes are first drilled to a centre marked by a tool fixed 
in the chamber. Each hole is then enlarged to admit of the shoulder of the striker 
or exploding pin working freely, and plugged out and tapped, to admit of the 
nipple being screwed in. The locks and furniture are then fitted, the fences or 
scroll round the nipples formed, and the body, fore-end, etc., filed into shape, and 
smooth-filed. The gun is then ready for the top-lever work to be fitted. 

In hammerless guns the routine is slightly different. The bodies are first roughly 
shaped, they then go to the lock filer and have the inside work, or lock work, 
fitted to them, the furniture, etc., fitted, and triggers and pull-off adjusted. The 
action is then sent back to the filer, who finishes shaping it. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. ^67 

The fitting up is the making, fixing, and adjusting of all the bolts which are 
necessary to keep the barrels and breech-action body together. In the treble- 
wedge-fast and top-lever guns this branch is considerably subdivided. One man 
usually fits the bottom bolt, another fits the lever, another prepares the tumbler- 
springs, pins, etc., the whole being put together and adjusted by the master-man of 
the shop. Care has to be taken in this branch so to arrange the work that the top 
and bottom bolt commence to travel together, and immediately on the lever being 
moved. The bites or grip upon the bottom and top lumps must also be good, 
-and the bolts fitted evenly and closely in the slots prepared for them, so as to 
equalise the strain as much as possible. A crooked, and consequently badly 
fitting, bottom bolt is more apt to break than one properly fitted, as it would 
have to stand the whole strain of the explosion, whereas in a well-fitted bolt 
the strain would be borne by the slot in the breech-action, as well as by the 
bolt itself. 

With the action body jointed to the barrels, adjusted thereto, the body, fore-end, 
-etc., filed to shape, and the holding-down bolts all fitted, the action-making may be 
said to be completed. Of late years, however, the hammerless locks and the self- 
ejecting mechanisms have brought additional work to the action filer, since the 
successful working of the gun depends wholly upon the accurate adjustment of the 
various mechanisms, and the firing and extracting mechanisms require to be fitted to, 
and made to work with, the particular weapon for which they are designed ; they 
are neither interchangeable nor adaptable. 


Before describing the methods of constructing hammerless locks and self- 
extracting mechanisms, a little space may be given to describing and illustrating the 
manufacture of gun locks. 

The various parts of a gun lock are forged by experienced hands from the best 
iron and steel, and handed to the lock filer, who first squares the lock-plates, and 
drills the holes from a pattern laid on the plate. The tumbler shank and pivot are 
turned or ground between two cutters, which makes the pivot and shank central 
with each other, and at perfect right angles to the body of the tumbler. The bridle 
is then filed up and fixed, the scear placed on and shaped, and the swivel fitted to 
the tumbler. The mainspring and scear spring have then to be shaped, filed to the 
requisite thickness and strength, fitted upon the lock-plate, hardened, and tempered. 
The bents are then cut in the tumbler with a small saw, and finished with files and 
smoothers until the scear works with as little friction and rubbing as possible. A very 


The Gun and its Development. 

old smooth file, worn almost to a burnisher, is used to finish the bents and bearings 
of the lock. 

In the illustration, page 269, i is the mainspring ; 2, the bridle and scear spring 
pins ; 3, the swivel ; 4, the scear ; 5, the hammer afifixed to tumbler shank, showing an 
end elevation of tumbler ; 6 is the nipple ; and 8, the striker or exploding-pin (the 
two latter are not inside the lock, but are fixed into break-oft of breech-action); 
7 is the scear spring; 9, the bridle; 10, the tumbler pin; and 11, the tumbler 
(side view). The bridle, hammer, and lock-plate only are of iron, the remaining 
parts being of steel. The springs are forged in long flat strips, and are bent into 
the V shape by the filers. 

In the Anson and Deeley hammerless guns there are no lock -plates ; the work is 
fitted into slots machined underneath the body of breech-action, as shown in the 
illustration of the " Machined Breech-action " on page 265. 

Modern Rebounding Gun-lock. 

In the illustration of the lock-work itself, i is the mainspring ; 2, the lifting or 
cocking lever ; 3, the tumbler, striker and exploding pin ; 4, the scear spring ; 6, the 
scear ; 7 and 8 are the pivot pins passing through the body on which work the 
scears and cocking levers ; 5 is the pivot on which the tumblers work, and shows 
an end view of the tumbler in elevation ; 9 is the scear spring pin ; and 10, a safety 
bolt for affixing to the gun and bolting the triggers. It will be seen that there are 
fewer pieces in the Anson and Deeley lock, and, compared with the ordinary lock, 
they are all very much broader and stronger. 

In W. W. Greener's hammerless lock the cocking dog, 2, is dispensed with, and 
a new and more simple method of cocking employed, all fully described under the 
headmg " Hammerless Guns." 

The great point in all this kind of work (action, lock and furniture filing) is to 
file flat and square ; proficiency in this art is only acquired after many years^ 

Pieces of Modern Hammer Gun-lock. 

7 ^ 

Lock-work of the Anson and Deeley Hammerless Gun, 

270 The Gun and its Development. 

practice, and by those who have been apprenticed to the work while young. It is 
well known that the Birmingham gun filers are unexcelled by any in their skilful use 
of the file, and it is certainly extraordinary to see the beautiful shapes and close 
fitting turned out by them. It is not too much to say that their work cannot be excelled, 
if equalled, by that of any artisan employed in any country at any trade. The 
above remarks are equally applicable to the gun-lock filers of the Black Country r 
Darlaston, Wednesbury, and the neighbourhood of Wolverhampton have long been 
famous for the excellent quality of their locks, and as good locks may still be 
obtained from there as any the world can produce. 


The material most generally in use for gun stocks is heart walnut {Juglans 
regid) ; in America the indigenous variety {/uglans nigra) is that commonly in use. 
The finest European walnut is that brought from south-eastern France and from 
the forests of the Eastern principalities. " English " walnut is the trade term used 
to designate a finely-figured variety suitable for gun stocks. It seems paradoxical to 
state that it is chiefly imported. 

English timber, from well-grown trees of sufficient age, lacks but one quality- 
colour. It is, however, so seldom in the market in sufficient quantity that the 
merchants prefer to draw their supply from districts where it is an article of general 

As to the qualities of the various woods. The English is heavy, very tough, 
well marked, but not gaudy ; that from France is lighter in weight, richer in colour, 
marked with broad streaks of black, and well veined ; in grain it is more open than 
English timber. Swiss timber is often grey, soft, and pulpy, as is also much of the 
German-grown walnut, though when well cut, properly chosen, and not artificially 
matured, there is little to choose between Swiss and German and the finest French 
wood. Belgian walnut is not plentiful ; it is inferior to that of meridional France. 
The Italian walnut is heavier than the French, is not so bright in colour, it has 
dark veins in plenty, but the background is one-hued, instead of having the yellow, 
orange, and neutral tints of the finest wood. Eastern Europe produces very fine 
walnut, but it is not so well prepared for the purpose of the gun-maker as that sawn 
by the experts of the Western centres. The wood is characterised by its closeness 
of grain and its exact marking, its colour is good, and it is fairly free from " shakes," 
" cracks," and other faults, but is not easily obtainable in large quantities. 
Circassian walnut is exported in logs. These are converted by the stock makers 
of Europe, and furnish the finest of all gun stocks, hard in grain, full of figure, 

Modern Methods of Gun-making, -zyi 

exact in marking, bright in colour, without cracks and galls, heavy, but with 
qualities which quite outweigh this disadvantage. American walnut is a distinct 
variety, a useful wood of dark colour, varying considerably in quality, and 
apparently lacking the figure common to y. regia. It takes a poor oil polish, and 
is seen at its best when varnished ; for the purposes of the gun-maker it is distinctly 
inferior to European walnut. 

The most beautifully marked stocks are cut from the portion of the tree where 
the roots and trunk join. The tree, therefore, requires to be grubbed up and 
planked when in that state. Inferior stocks are cut from the branches ; sometimes 
they are well marked, but they are all liable to warp. 

There is a great difference in the quality of gun stocks, even amongst those cut 
from the same tree. Some stocks exhibit a species of cross figure, generally in a 
paler or yellow tint; this is termed "fiddle," and enhances the value of the stock. 
A few possess hard galls which, from their unusual colour, give the stock an 
uncommon appearance. Good gun stocks are light, handsome, and straight in 
the grain at the grip and head of the gun, free from shakes or cracks, close-grained 
and without galls or soft places. In the best stocks the pattern is decided, and 
generally the black markings are large. 

It is necessary that the stocks be perfectly dry before working them. Nominally 
the dealers, but actually the gun-makers, bear the expense of storing the wood until 
fit to use. The tree is sold to the sawyer, who cuts it up as soon as convenient to 
himself. The planks are examined and patterned out by the marker, who must 
have a sharp eye to detect any niceties of figure in the rough-sawn plank ; his chief 
object, moreover, is to get as many stocks out of the plank as possible without 
regard to the whereabouts of grain markings even. The stocks are kept no longer 
than requisite to get them dry enough to plane or polish, so that the buyer 
may judge their quality. The amount of really fine wood available is limited. 

Of other woods which are or have been used for gun stocks, beech is the one 
best known ; it is heavy, and has no figure. Birch is inferior to beech. Ash, well 
chosen, has a pretty marking, which shows to best advantage when french-polished 
or varnished. Birdseye maple is too brittle. In America cherry and tulip wood 
have been tried, as well as Honduras walnut, but apparently with as little success 
as the attempt made some time ago to popularise the South African stink-wood 
as a material for gun stocks. The trial of Queensland honeysuckle, so much 
recommended, seems likely to prove as disappointing. 

Walnut seems to be purposely designed for gun stocks. No other wood or 
material possesses qualities so admirably adapted to the requirements of 


The Gun and its Development. 

the gun-maker, and for sporting weapons it is doubtful whether anything will 
ever supersede it. The only objection raised to it save with respect to its great 
cost is its high conductivity. Experts think that a wood of less conductivity, as 
maple or honeysuckle, would be more pleasant to use ; the shock of the recoil 
would, it is argued, be less. 

greener's unbreakable stock. 

The necessity for additional strength to the usual gun stock is fully proven 
by the numerous orders gun-makers receive for extra butts to be supplied with new 
guns and rifles intended for use in India, Africa, and other wild countries. 

The author has designed and patented a gun stock which is practically 
unbreakable. The stock is fastened to the breech-action by a long butt-pin passing 
through the centre of the hand and screwing into the back of the breech-action 
(similar to the Martini), and thereby firmly securing the butt to the action, and, at 
the same time, strengthening the weakest part of the stock. 

Greener's Unbreakable Gun Stock 

The diameter of the butt-pin is reduced at intervals to allow for the expansion of 
the wood and prevent the stock splitting. 

A gun fitted with this improvement was used for several seasons, and in order 
to test it, it was purposely submitted to very rough treatment : such as striking it 
against wooden rails other obstacles, dropping it from a dog-cart, letting it fall from 
horseback, throwing it several times from a tree (20 ft. in height) on to the 
ground, and other similar tests, all of which it withstood perfectly. 

Another plan adopted by the author is to place strengthening pieces along the 
outside of the stock, either by elongating the top strap and guard or by fitting metal 
plates to the back of the action, and continuing them down each side of the grip ; 
either of these methods makes the stock practically unbreakable, and they are 
strongly recommended for Express and large bore rifles. 

Modern Methods of Gun-makikg. 273 

gun stocking. 

The stocker upon receiving the stock first roughs it into shape, or, as it is 
called, trims it out, with a mallet, chisel, and draw-knife. He next proceeds to fit 
the breech-action to the stock, first bedding the breech-action firmly against the 
stock, and then letting in the strap. He adjusts the bend or crook of the gun, and 
the amount of cast-off, partly by the angle of the joint, and partly by the shape 
given to the stock in trimming-out. When the required bend has been given to the 
stock, the gun is sent to the screwer to have the trigger-plate let in and the breech- 
pin fitted. The stocker then proceeds to let in the locks, or, if hammerless, the 
scears and tumblers only. The locks are stripped and the plates first let in, 
put together again, and the wood gradually removed until the lock will go into its 
place and work perfectly free. The head and grip of the gun are then shaped, and 
the wood cut away to admit of top-lever work acting. The stock is then rounded 
up with a draw-knife and rasp-filed over, the fore-end fitted to the barrel and 
shaped up, when the gun is again ready for the screwers. 

This branch requires a great number of tools chisels and gouges of different 
sizes and twists. A large assortment of floats and shovels are also required, to 
cleanly remove the wood from the locks and fore-end. In Birmingham stocking is 
the only branch done by one class of men (the gun stockers) ; in London and 
country shops the stocker also screws and sometimes even finishes the gun. 

For various gun stocks designed to suit the peculiarities of the shooter, see 
^' The Choice of a Gun," more particularly the paragraphs upon the " Pitting and 
Dimensions of the Gun Stock." 


The screwing and finishing of a gun comprise the making and fitting of the 
pins by which the woodwork is held to the iron parts of the gun, the bolt which 
secures the fore-end to the barrels, and the fitting and fixing of all the furniture 
heel- plate, trigger-guard, etc. 

The screwer first lets in the trigger-plate of the gun, and fits the breech-pin, 
taking care so to fit it that it draws the breech-action firmly on to the stock. He 
receives the gun again when finished stocking, and fits the side pins to keep the 
locks in their place ; hangs the triggers, screws in the guard and fore-end ; fits the 
fore-end and safety-bolts, if any, and screws on the heel-plate. The gun is then ready 
for the percussioner, and the barrels go to be finished in the boring, and smoothed 
ready for browning. When percussioned, the gun is shot at a target, and altered 
till it makes the required pattern, as described. 

2 74 \ The Gun and its Development. 

When shot and found correct the gun is sent to the finisher, who has to make 
the gun conform either to pattern or to the measurements given ; adjust the length 
and bend of the stock, verify the " cast-ofF" and balance, shape the heel-plate^ 
making toe and heel of right length and the inclination of the butt plate exact. 

When the finisher has attended to these points, he has to file up and shape the 
stock and fore-end, smooth the ironwork ; wet, dry, and smooth or, as it is called, 
"cleanse" all the woodwork several times, so that the stock will not become 
rough when wet. The whole of the woodwork is then buffed over with a leather 
buff-stick and pumice-stone and rotten-stone. The chequering is now done, and 
the gun stripped of all the ironwork, and sent for polishing and engraving. 
When polished and hardened, the finisher has to put the gun together again^ 
see that all the work lies properly on the wood, and set any piece that may have 
warped from the heat of the fire; then oil and buff up the stock. The gun is now 
ready for final adjustment and inspection. 

The finisher is, in short, the workman who not only does much towards com- 
pleting the gun, but prepares the various parts for the final touches of action, lock, 
and barrel filers, and brings their work into harmony with the general scheme of 
construction. His work is done at intervals, but his knowledge and skill enable 
him to form the gun in accordance with the plan to be followed, and as no one 
workman touches the gun at so many different stages in the course of its manufacture, 
or at so many different points, the finisher requires to possess a wide knowledge of 
the art of gun-making, and to be acquainted with the details of most parts of every 
mechanism of any and every gun which may pass through his hands. The work of 
the finisher will be made more clear by the critical notes on gun-making at the 
end of this section. 


In the days of muzzle-loaders the percussioner's branch was a very important 
one, he having to fit the nipple, chamber the breech, drill and plug the vent-hole, 
besides shaping the fences and fitting the cocks. With the introduction of breech- 
loaders his trade has diminished to fitting the cocks only, and with hammerless 
guns he has nothing to do. 

The hammers or cocks are filed from either forgings or stampings. In the illus- 
tration, a represents a modern-pattern central-fire cock-stamping, ^ is a forging, 
whilst c represents the forging filed up in the neatest and most approved pattern. 
The stampings are very tough if made from good iron, but the leading gun-makers 
adhere to forgings for the hammers of all their best guns. The percussioner, upon 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 


receiving the stampings or forgings, first proceeds to drill and square a hole in the 
hammer to admit shank of tumbler, and fit the hammer upon it ; it should fit tightly, 
to prevent play or liability to fly off; the hole is drifted from round to square by 
knocking in different-sized drifts, which condenses the iron round the hole, and so 
prevents the hammer from wearing loose. He then files the noses of the forgings, 
and adjusts them to strike evenly over the face of the nipple, and proceeds to file up 

Gun Cocks. 

the cocks, the only care being to get them exactly alike, and to see that they stand 
the same height as each other when the cocks are at both full and half bent. 


The object of the polisher is to remove from the ironwork of the gun all traces 
of the file ; this is accomplished by polishing the work on emery bobs of various 
degrees of fineness ; all flat parts and the grooves of the hammers are stick-polished, 
and finished by burnishing with a hard stick burnisher. Some parts of the lock- 
work are also lapped upon a revolving leaden surface plate, with emery and water, 
the best plan for level polishing. The bobs and laps should be driven by steam- 
power, as is the case in Birmingham. To obtain good results they should make 
about 2,500 revolutions per minute. In some London and country gun shops the 

276 The Gun and its Development. 

bobs are run upon a foot-lathe. All ironwork intended for bluing is burnished 
over after it is polished ; this tends to close the grain of the iron, as well as giving 
a deeper colour and gloss to the article when blued. The polishing bob consists of 
a wooden wheel or disc from 10 to 15 inches in diameter, around which is glued 
a tyre of buff leather ; the tyre is coated with emery powder, also glued ; the 
buffs require the emery coating to be frequently renewed. A number of 
bobs of various degrees of fineness and coarseness are kept at hand, so that 
they may be changed instantaneously. When polished, the work goes to be en- 
graved ; after the work is engraved, it is case-hardened or blued. The body, . 
fore -end, hammers, trigger and lock-plates, bridles, triggers, escutcheons, and 
all the screws are hardened, and also the lever, if of iron, which is always the 
case in the double-grip Lefaucheux action. 

The work to be hardened is placed in a cast-iron pot with animal charcoal 
(made by parching bone-dust), which must entirely cover all the work. The pot is 
then placed in a bright coal fire, where it remains till the whole is of a worm red. 
The fire must be a slow one, and the work will require to remain in from one to one 
and a half hours, according to the body of the material to be hardened. A practical 
hardener can tell by looking into it whether it is ready to come out. When taken 
out of the fire, the work is plunged into cold water. The iron when at a red heat 
absorbs the carbon, which causes the surface to become perfectly hard after being 
suddenly cooled, and also gives a nice mottled colour to the iron. The hardening 
does not extend beneath the surface, so that it is possible to bend and set the iron 
as though it were altogether soft. In Birmingham, where bone-turning is a con- 
siderable industry, bone-dust can be easily obtained in sufficient quantities, but in 
the country and abroad, whenever it is found necessary to case-harden, and bone- 
dust is not to be obtained, burnt leather is a good substitute, and old shoes are 
saved for this purpose. Some work is case-hardened by plunging when at red heat 
into a solution of prussiate of potash, but work so hardened will be found of a dead 
grey hue, and wanting the fine mottled colours so much admired. The blue colour 
is obtained by heating the work in a pan of pounded vegetable charcoal. It is 
necessary that the charcoal be very fine, but any amateur may blue by placing the 
pan of charcoal upon a fire and burying the work to be blued in it. The work 
must be removed occasionally, and rubbed with tow or powdered chalk, to remove 
any grease and keep a fine gloss upon the work. 

The work will change colour repeatedly; it will first attain a pale straw-colour, 
afterwards a light blue, a purple, a dark blue, a red, a white, and lastly a dark deep 
blue, approaching a black. Bluing has a tendency to temper hardened steel, 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 277 

which should not be taken below a light blue; it takes a few minute^ only. The' 
dark blue takes from twenty to twenty-five minutes, according to the size of 
the article. 


Of the few useful things which can be decorated to a high degree without 
spoiling their beauty or affecting their efficiency the sporting gun is one. 

Engraving, as most people know, is done by cutting lines into the surface 
of the metal with a sharp, fine, triangular chisel called a burin or graver. A well- 
engraved gun should not only exhibit elegance of design in the decoration added, 
but the execution of the work should be by fine, firm lines, cut into, not scratched 
upon, the metal surface. All, of course, depends upon the artistic sense and the 
skill of the engraver ; any design may be traced upon the metal and cut up. Very 
fine scroll work is the style now usually adopted, as these lines best adapt them- 
selves to the first requisite of engraving from the gun-maker's point of view, namely, 
the hiding of joints, ugly straight lines, obtrusive pins, etc. etc. The engraving of 
game, bouquets, and other subjects, demands greater skill from the executant, and 
a clearer perception of artistic effect. 

The prevalent idea that engraving is very expensive is entirely erroneous. It 
may have induced some sportsmen to prefer quite plain guns, and is therefore 
deserving contradiction. The gun quite devoid of engraving looks well enough 
when new, for the rich colours of the case-hardening supply the requisite decoration. 
When the gun is a little worn, the hardened surfaces assume the dirty white hue, 
and the rich blue on the furniture also wears to bright white metal; then the joints 
between the portions of the breech mechanism become too apparent, the pin heads 
are obtrusively to the fore, and the gun offends ; whereas, by the expenditure of only 
a few shillings in lasting decoration, the greater the wear the more the good 
qualities of the engraving and the elegant form of the weapon would become 

Another objection to engraving is that the weapon cannot be so readily kept 
clean. The lines of the engraving should be so shallow that the engraved part is as 
readily cleaned as the plain surface. 

The real objection appears to have been the result of a practice once prevalent 
of making the only difference in quality and price dependent upon the amount of 
engraving. The natural effect of this was that, engraving being a comparatively 
cheap process, badly-made and inexpensively-produced guns had a few additional 
shillings spent upon the engraving, and were sold as, and represented to be, guns of 
good quality, if not of the highest grade. 

278 The Gun and its Development. 

In the decoration of the guns made, the author has always been guided by one 
rule not to elaborately engrave, or otherwise decorate, guns which have to be sold 
at moderate prices. The money so expended, if it could not be laid out to better 
advantage in workmanship on the mechanism of the gun, could at least be so 
expended that attempts to misrepresent the quality of the gun, owing to its highly- 
decorated exterior, should be difficult. Appreciating to the fullest extent the real 
worth of appropriate decoration upon fire-arms, he has never preferred to make 
guns of really good quality so bare that when once the gloss of newness had gone, 
their bald appearance should prejudice the owner and user against them. En- 
graving and decoration have, therefore, with him at least, been used as in some 
measure an indication of the quality of the work. 

Fine workmanship is of itself an excellent indication of quality ; and fine 
workmanship is more noticeable in the decoration than in many other points 
observable in fire-arms. The author has repeatedly been requested to produce 
fine guns well worth the hundred guineas offered, and has succeeded in satisfying 
even the most fastidious of these ardent admirers of beautiful workmanship. In 
only one instance was it insisted that the decoration of a gun of this type should 
include not a line of engraving, and, of course, no addition of precious or other decora- 
tive metals. This gun, highly decorative in other ways and beyond reproach, and 
all-satisfying to the purchaser whilst it was new, yet looked meagre when hard wear 
in a tropical climate tarnished its colouring and toned the bright figure of the stock. 

Of recent years the demand for highly decorated guns has greatly increased, and 
the author has supplied some very beautiful specimens of decorated arms. In some 
instances the work consists simply of sporting subjects carved or chiselled in low 
relief in the metal itself; in others the decoration has taken the form of allegorical 
figures embossed in high reUef upon the action and barrels in gold, platinum and 
other precious metals. Naturally this class of work greatly enhances the value of a 
gun, it being an easy matter to spend fifty or sixty pounds upon the decoration 
alone. Two beautiful examples of gun decoration are shown on the annexed plate. 

Decoration need not be wholly confined to the engraving of lines. The 
greatest beauty of all is the elegant contour of a well-designed gun, proportionate in 
every part, and boldly outlined, yet gracefully turned where a too sharp angle would 
offend the eye of the artist. The breaking of the straight line between the breech- 
action body and the head of the stock not only makes a better and stronger union 
of wood and iron possible, but adds to the appearance of the gun. So, too, the 
chequering upon hand and fore-end not only enables the sportsman to obtain a 
surer grip, but is of itself attractive when well-designed and skilfully executed. The 


Modern Methods of Gun-making. 179 

well-decorated gun will have every bolt, every pin, every part not only proportionate, 
rightly fitted, and well designed, but so placed as to be of actual service and its 
position utilised in the general scheme of decoration followed, so that upon close 
examination it would appear that without that most minute line or point the weapon 
itself would be incomplete. 


The bronzed appearance of the finished gun barrel is obtained by a process of 
rusting the barrels, the rust being cultivated, then stopped ; the complete oxidation 
of the surface renders the barrels less liable to rust by natural means. 

The beautiful figure of the fine Damascus and laminated steel twist barrels is 
not surface-deep only ; the figure runs completely through the barrel, as will be 
made clear by referring to the description of the process of making the iron for, 
and the methods of welding, the barrels. Consequently, it is impossible to get by 
browning any finer or more beautiful figure than is already in the barrel; it is 
possible, by inferior browning, to hide that figure, or so obscure it that recognition 
is barely possible. That fine gloss, seemingly the effect of lacquer or copal 
varnish, is nothing more than the burnished surface of the barrel, which before 
browning was as highly polished as a silver mirror. 

"Browning," according to the statement of a technical writer, "is a dirty, a 
long, and a tiresome process." It should not therefore be attempted by amateurs, 
and the best results are only obtainable when there are facilities for maintaining 
variable temperatures for any length of time by night and day. 

The method of colouring figured barrels usually followed may be shortly 
described. The barrels, highly polished, are plugged with tightly-fitting pegs. 
During the processes of browning they are handled entirely by these pegs, and are 
not touched by the hand. Double barrels have usually one barrel corked at the 
breech, the other at the muzzle; the wooden plug projects also from each barrel 
about four inches. The barrels are coated with damped whiting ; this is brushed 
off when dry, and removes all grease. A browning mixture is then applied with a 
piece of flannel, and the barrels are put by in a moist atmosphere at about 50 F. 
This coating of mixture will rust the barrel if allowed to remain for twelve or 
eighteen hours. It must then be scratched off by energetically scrubbing with a 
brush of steel wire ; the barrels are then again coated with the browning mixture, 
which may remain on ten to twelve hours ; the removal of the second coating of 
rust is effected in the same way ; the coating and scratching processes are repeated 
time after time, until the barrel is completely rusted. The barrel is brought into a 
warmer temperature with each succeeding coating, and a shorter time allowed to 

28o The Gun and its Development. 

elapse before it is removed, as the acid acts more quickly when once a start is 
obtained and the oxidation of the surface proceeds. If the rust is not removed by 
the scratch-brush on every part of the barrel before it is re-coated, that untouched, 
or partly scoured, portion will be streaky when the browning process is completed. 
So, too, the barrel must be coated evenly a thinly-spread coat ; no over-wetting 
so that the acid runs, or lighter patches and half-browned surfaces will appear, not 
to mention ugly spots where the acid has collected. The barrel being dark enough, 
it is boiled for a few minutes in a trough of soft-water in which a few logwood 
chips and a little soda have been placed. Sulphate of copper is sometimes 
preferred to soda. The barrels are then wiped dry, and should show distinctly 
every curl in the figure, the grains of the steel lighter than those of the iron, the 
welds darker than either. 

There are many recipes for browning mixtures ; a good one is as follows : 
I oz. muriate tincture of steel; i oz. spirits of wine; \ oz. muriate of mercury; 
\ oz. strong nitric acid ; \ oz. sulphate of copper ; i quart of distilled water. This 
mixture should be allowed to stand for some days, in order that the ingredients 
may properly amalgamate. 

Hard barrels, those in which there is much steel, require longer time and the 
browning mixture should be still further diluted. Soft barrels may be more quickly 
browned, and a stronger mixture used. Where the figure is bold and the iron and 
steel threads are large there is less difficulty in browning. 

The colours which can be obtained vary from a light yellowish-brown, through 
various red-browns, to a deep Vandyck-brown. A rich plum brown is obtained if 
time is taken and a little black brimstone, say \ oz., added to the above mixture. 
Spirits of nitre and nitric ether are sometimes used in lieu of spirits of wine- 

The black-and-white brown may be obtained by using much diluted mixture, 
and touching up the barrel before boiling by sponging with water in which a little 
muriate of steel has been stirred. The colours can be heightened also by plunging 
the barrels in cold water immediately they are taken from the boiling trough. In 
all fine-figured barrels the coating of rust is necessarily very thin, or the figure could 
not be distinguished. This coating of brown soon wears off. The only remedy is 
to have a greater body of brown, hiding the figure, or to use the black-brown, as in 
military rifle barrels. This last brown is much more durable, and eff'ectually pro- 
tects the barrels from rusting by salt air ; hence it is much used on ducking, punt, and 
wild-fowling guns. 

Steel shot barrels, when black-browned, show no tendency to rust, however 
much exposed to atmospheric changes. The black-brown is obtained in a shorter 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 


time, and a much stronger mixture may be used as, for instance : i| oz. spirits of 
wine; \\ oz. tincture of iron ; x\ oz, corrosive sublimate; \\ oz, sweet spirits of 
nitre ; i oz. sulphate of copper ; | oz. strong nitric acid ; i quart of water. 

Before re-browning any figured barrel it is essential that the old brown be 
effectually removed. The barrel must be well polished again before re-browning, 
if that fine sheen so much desired is required ; otherwise, simply rubbing off the 
brown with emery cloth, with fine emery in water, or by sponging the barrel with 
strong vinegar, will answer the purpose. 


The manufacture of gun-mountings comprises many branches. The mountings 
consist of sights, fore-end fasteners, safety-bolts, nipples and strikers, thumb-pieces, 
horn tips and heel-plates, and the screw-pins. 


Of the many fore-end fasteners introduced, the Deeley and Edge is the most in 

favour, owing to its handiness and neat 
appearance. The author has now intro- 
duced an improved model of the Deeley 
and Edge type, in which a square bolt, 
sliding in a groove and afitording a much 
stronger grip, is substituted for the hook 
and half-circle motion of the original 
pattern. Outwardly both fore-ends have 
the same appearance. The Anson patent 
bolt consists of an iron rod in a tube, 
kept in position by a spiral spring. The 
grip fore-end fastener is of a similar con- 
struction to the original Lefaucheux lever 
used in breech-loading guns to secure 
the barrels. The old bolt, although the 
most secure, is fast falling into disuse, 
owing to its requiring a turn-screw to 


Deeley or Greener ^^^^^^ ^^e fore-end. 
Improvea Fore-end. ^'-"^"^^ >- ^ ^ ^ 


Nipples and strikers are turned in a lathe, and are usually supplied to the trade 
by men who make the small work and nothing else. The old spring exploding 


The Guy and its Development. 

pin, because it not unfrequently jammed, was practically superseded by the striker 
fitting freely and pushed back flush with the face of the standing breech by the 
extractor on opening and in closing the gun. Another form of pin, with a large 
head to prevent dubbing up by the repeated blows of the hammer, is shown, and it, 
too, is worked in the same way. 

Sometimes it is convenient to have a sling to the gun or rifle, in order that it 
may be slung across the shoulder. For this purpose there are attachable slings 

Strikers worked by the Extractor. 

Spring Strikers and Nipple. 

A ' Swivel " for Flat Sling. Gun-barrel Eye for a Swivelled Sling. 

made, of which the one described on page 617 is probably the best, but it is neater 
to have soldered upon the barrel and screwed into the stock a swivel for a flat 
strap, or an eye ; if the latter, a swivel will have to be attached to each end of the 
strap used as a sling. 


The heel-plates are either of buffalo horn or ebonite, and are glued, as well as 
screwed, to the stocks. The tips and caps, for pistol-hand guns, are of buffalo 
horn, and glued to the wood. 

The anti-recoil heel-plate consists of a layer of pliable vulcanised india-rubber 
affixed to an ebonite heel-plate, the centre of which is hollow, and together with the 
rubber covering forms a pneumatic pad. The ebonite is pierced with holes to admit 
screws for fastening to the stock, as illustrated on the hammerless duck gun, 
page 399. 

The wood screws and iron pins for gun-work are made from the best iron. The 
wood screws are taper and smoothly finished off", and are always soaped before 
being turned in, to prevent their binding in the wood. The screws are manufactured 
in the neighbourhood of Birmingham. The same people also make the rifle eyes 
for slings, etc. 

The iron pins are made from rolled bar-iron. They are stamped upon Olivers, 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 283 

in much the same manner as described for stamping with dies. Common iron pins 
are made by screw-cutting machinery. 


The idea of making guns on the interchangeable system by the aid of 
machinery appears to have originated with the French during the latter part of the 
eighteenth century. The process of stamping instead of forging the various parts 
of the gun was the only successful result, and the honour of working out the system 
to a successful issue is due to the Americans. 

About 1797, Eli Whitney, the owner of cotton mills in some of the Southern 
States, moved northwards, and was induced to try his fortunes as a gunsmith. 
A contract for 10,000 arms was secured for him ; these he manufactured almost 
entirely from stampings, and he also applied machinery to the shaping and, as far as 
possible, to the finishing of the several parts. He also introduced the system of gauges, 
by which uniformity of construction is ensured for parts made after the same model. 

John H. Hall, of Harper's Ferry, was the next to improve the system. In 
181 2 he wrote to the United States Government, laying particular stress upon his 
plan of making guns. He says : " Every similar part of my gun is so much alike 
that it will suit every gun." This system of interchangeability was first appHed to 
Government service by Hall in 1818, and it has since established itself as the rule 
of the Government workshops. 

Blanchard, of Middlebury, Massachusetts, carried the improvements a step 
beyond either Whitney or Hall, by the application of the lathe to the turning of 
thel)arrel and shaping of the gun stock. 

Blanchard required seventeen separate machines for the shaping of his stocks, 
but by the combination of processes these have since been reduced to thirteen. 
Some idea of the extent to which the use of machinery in the making of military 
arms is carried may be gathered from the fact that one of the American factories 
has more than 1,758 machines, and can turn out each day five hundred rifles of 
a particular pattern. A Belgian factory constructed for an estimated output of 
three hundred a day has 900 machines, which cost more than three million francs 
before being fixed. The various processes through which the several limbs of the 
gun pass are technically termed "cuts." It is not unusual for 1,000 "cuts" to be 
made in producing a particular rifle. In some as many as 1,250 are necessary, but 
the general tendency is to simplify the mechanism and materially reduce the cost of 
the military small arm. 

In England Mr. Prosser was requested by the Government to report as to 

284 The Gun and its Development. 

the possibility of making guns on the interchangeable plan. This was in 1850 ; in 
1852 Col. Colt was examined by a Committee of the House of Commons with 
reference to the same subject, and upon the strength of his representations a 
Commission visited the United States ; the result of that visit was the founding of 
the Enfield factory, the purchase of American machinery and the introduction of the 
interchangeable system of manufacture into England at the close of the Crimean War. 

The strikes of the gunmen in Birmingham during the Crimean War un- 
doubtedly greatly influenced our Government to take this step to ensure a suffi- 
cient supply of arms in case of emergency ; for, during the war, the supply of 
Enfield rifles was so small that they had to be despatched after the troops, 
and some regiments were even armed, /w tern., with the old Brown Bess. Had the 
workmen of Birmingham worked during the rush, instead of immediately and con- 
tinuously striking, in all probability the Government factory would never have been 
founded ; and the two large factories built afterwai-ds in Birmingham for the manu- 
facture of military arms by improved machinery would have been fully employed. 

The making of military arms by machinery, however, has its drawbacks. It 
impairs the value of skilled labour, for by the division of labour and the subdivision 
of the various branches the workman becomes a mere machine, going through the 
monotonous routine without interest or endeavour to render more perfect the 
article he assists in shaping, although, doubtless, the work itself is better done by 
means of such subdivision. 

That improvements and changes are not desired in a large machine factory" can 
easily be imagined, as the expense of altering the machines, gauges, and tools is so 
great ; therefore the tardiness in adopting a new model. And whatever may be said 
in favour of machine-made arms, unless skilled labour is at hand to fall back upon, 
nations may sometimes be at a loss. For instance, during the American War the 
machine factories at Harper's Ferry were captured by the South, and the long war 
was concluded before the Government could again set up machinery to turn out 
arms in the quantities required. Both sides depended for their supply upon hand- 
made guns manufactured by the English and the Belgians. 

In military arms the advantage of the interchangeable system is apparent; but 
for sporting arms, where in every case individual taste has to be considered, their 
production must ever be fraught with formidable obstacles, and perfect as works of 
art they never can be. 

In the production of sporting guns machinery now has an important part. The 
ordinary sporting gun, not the interchangeable article, is here referred to. Much of 
the labour which was formerly done by hammer, file, and foot-lathe is now more 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 285 

readily and cheaply performed by the judicious use of machinery. In the hammer- 
less gun, for instance, much work which could only be done indifferently by 
hand-drills, " routers," and special tools, is cleanly and squarely cut by slotting and 
profiling machines. Probably the gunsmiths of Bohemia are the only workmen 
who, at this date, could take the bars of iron and steel and the plank of wood and 
single-handed produce therefrom a modern shot-gun. Such a weapon would be 
much inferior to even the ordinary qualities produced in this and other countries at 
less than one-third the cost. The work which can be profitably accomplished by 
machining includes much of the first shaping of breech-actions and barrels, but it is 
only of late years that steam machinery has been considered necessary for the 
manufacture of sporting breech-actions, and even now those few London and 
country gun-makers who manufacture their own breech-actions are, with very few 
exceptions, under the necessity of labouring with the slow and old-fashioned 
foot-lathe. Those gun-makers, however, who have to produce first-rate weapons 
at a moderate price, as well as high-class hammerless guns, are obliged to provide 
themselves with machinery sufficient to carry on a light engineering business, and most 
of them are now able to manufacture upon the premises such tools and light 
machinery as may be required for general purposes. 

By adopting steam machinery and the division of labour it is not only possible to 
reduce cost of manufacture, but the work is done much better than if one man did three 
or four branches. The ordinary work of the machine-shop may be shortly described- 

The barrels are placed in a lathe for chambering, the tool revolving very 
slowly, about 120 revolutions per minute. The barrel is slowly forced towards the 
lathe head by the screw centre, and soap-suds are continually kept running upon the 
tool, to assist the cutting and keep the tool clean. The barrels are first rough- 
chambered, the extractors fitted, and then finished chambering. The roughing tool 
is generally half round, which cuts on one side only. The finishing tool cuts very 
fine, and has generally three or five cutting edges. The barrel, when chambered, is 
taken to a milling machine and the recess for the extractor cut, the hole for the leg 
having been drilled in the steel lump before brazing it to the barrels. 

The steel lump is planed on each side to gauges, so that it niay be in the centre 
of the barrels, and a more uniform thickness ensured. 

The parts worked in this shop consist of forgings for the body or breech- 
action proper, the fore-end, and, when double-grip actions, the lever. 

The milling machine, which does most of the work to the breech-actions, 
resembles a lathe head upon a short bed, in front of which is a slide rest, capable of 
being moved vertically as well as horizontally. The body is fixed in a holding 

286 The Gun and its Development. 

block, and a cut taken down one side. This side then serves as a basis from which 
the body may be machined square and true. By moving the handles right or left, 
forward or backward, up or down, the body may be planed all over, and a much 
truer form obtained than if done by a file. 

The lock holes, to receive the mainsprings, can also be cut, the slots for 
lump drilled ; the joint, or hinge-pin, on which the barrel turns, put in perfectly 
true, and the fore-end joint shaped a half-circle, of which the joint-pin is the centre. 

The hollow joint in the fore-end is cut by a tool running between centres in 
a lathe, and is made to coincide with 'the joint formed on the breech-action. The 
bolt-hole, or slot in the body for the under-bolt, is generally drilled in a lathe. 
Besides the above, the extractors, hinge-pins, strikers, etc., are turned in this shop, 
and various tools and cutters made ; therefore it is necessary that the whole shop 
be managed by a clever engineer and tool-maker. 

The wedge-fast hammerless guns are treated in the same manner, but the slots for 
the lock-work are cut in the bottom of the body and block of the standing-breech. 

The hinge-pin also has sometimes to be left soHd in the action, instead of being 
screwed in, as is the case with ordinary actions. 


Endeavours to produce double shot-guns by machinery have not been altogether 
successful. The United States for years has been the best market for shot-guns, 
and with the Americans originated the idea of supplying the demand by cheaper 
production. Several firms embarked in the venture, glutting the market for a time. 
An enterprising Liege firm followed with similar weapons, atad latterly English and 
German firms have also produced machine-made guns on the interchangeable plan. 

These productions are of various qualities, and each successive model is an im- 
provement on preceding ones; nevertheless without contending that the production 
of a perfect machine-made double shot-gun is an impossibility all models yet 
produced have defects not found in fine or medium quality hand-made guns. 

Machine-made guns must be considered a production of mechanical engineering, 
not of gun making, and from that standpoint may give that satisfaction which from 
any other point of view would not be forthcoming. 

The radical error made is the assumption that one type of gun will suit, if not 
everyone, yet a very large number of persons. As no two persons are exactly alike, 
each person to be perfectly suited with a gun will require something different to 
that which will suit anyone else ; and the interchangeable system of manufacture 
precludes any change in design, or even such modifications of form as will suit a 
gun to differences of personal physique. 

Modern Methods of Gun-making. 287 

The common plan, too, is to use hand-welded barrels of differing weights, but 
fitting all to the same size of breech mechanism and stock. Thus some guns will 
be badly balanced, in fact, any slight variation from the exact original model will 
fail, because, in a sporting gun, if any one piece is made larger or smaller, many 
other pieces, if not the whole, which comprise the gun must conform proportionately, 
or the weapon will be imperfect. 

The machine factories, however large their stock, cannot carry, because they 
cannot profitably make in small quantities, arms of the different lengths, weights 
and bores required by sportsmen. The author carries, perhaps, the largest stock of 
finished sporting guns of anyone in England, yet out of the thousands in his 
possession there are, with the exception of match pairs, probably no two guns quite 
alike in every particular. If the demand for sporting guns could be met like the 
call for military muskets, then the interchangeable method of manufacture would 
succeed. As long as sportsmen require so many different weapons, it can never 
prove profitable. 

Again, the introduction of new explosives of greater or varying strengths, of which 
there appears to be a constant supply, and of improved mechanisms, is not only 
against, the manufacture of a particular type of gun by machinery in great quantities, 
but also militates against the accumulation of stock. Of late years the author and 
leading gun-makers in this country have deemed it advisable to increase the strength 
of the breech mechanisms of guns likely to be used with certain nitro-explosives. In 
like manner, at and near the breech-ends the barrels are made stouter, yet the gun 
is kept to the usual weight, is in some cases even lighter, and the balance is where 
it is always found in high-quality guns. The changes required the whole construc- 
tion of the gun to be modified. So much, or so little, could not be accomplished 
profitably or in like time with the machine methods of production. The inter- 
changeable guns of a few years ago are not all so well suited to modern explosives as 
later patterns of hand-made guns ; some of them have burst or broken when used 
with heavy charges of these now fashionable powders, and others may do so ; yet 
not only the method, but the very model is still adhered to. 

In short, a machine-made sporting gun is not a higher development of the shot- 
gun, but rather a degenerate specimen. It is a sitie qua non that all be alike : no 
scope is given for the fancy of workman or artist, no incentive to producing a better 
arm than all before turned out ; and instead of being a perfectly balanced, propor- 
tionate, tastily ornamented and well-built gun, it is but the assemblage of various 
synoforms, neither artistic nor symmetrical ; in many instances a poor, and at best 
only a mediocre, production. 

288 The Gun and its Development. 



The compulsory proving of fire-arms most probably originated in the jealousy of 
the gun-makers' guilds. The guilds sought by enactments, ostensibly for the benefit 
of the public, to prevent the manufacture of fire-arms by unauthorised persons. 
However this may be, the compulsory proving of gun barrels has invariably been 
beneficial to those engaged in fire-arms manufacture. 

At St. Etienne, in France, the testing of fire-arms has been carried on for many 
years, probably since the date of the introduction of the industry in the fifteenth 
century, but it has never been compulsory in France. In London, Birmingham, and 
Liege, before compulsory tests were required to be made, most gun-makers privately 
proved guns within their own factories, or at a trade proof-house, a system still in 
vogue in Austria, France, and probably in America. 

The first Charter of Incorporation of the London Gun-makers' Company possibly 
did not confer the powers which rendered gun-barrel proving at the Company's 
house imperative, but the second charter, granted in 1672, gave powers of searching 
for and proving and marking all manner of hand guns, great and small, daggs and 
pistols, and every part thereof, whether made in London or the suburbs, or within 
ten miles thereof, or imported from foreign parts, or otherwise brought thither 
for sale; and a scale for proof was thereby established. In pursuance of their 
charter the Gun-makers' Company established the Proof-house near the City 
of London. 

In Birmingham a company was formed, and an Act of Parliament obtained in 
the year 1813, with suitable premises for the proof of gun barrels. This Act proved 
insufficient, as many makers found easy means of evading it. Another Act, like- 
wise inoperative, was passed in 181 5. 

After much agitation another Act was obtained in 1855, ^'^^ this proving quite 
unsatisfactory, the agitation did not subside until the wardens of the Proof-house, 
and those responsible for its control, accepted a new Bill, which was passed in 1868, 

The Proof of Guns. 289 

and remains in force. By this Bill which is a private Act, not a Statute of the 
Realm the trade elect their own guardians, and it is enacted that any 
person or persons making and selling any gun the barrel of which has not been 
proved at either this or the London Proof-house become liable to a penalty of 
;^2o. And it further enacts that any person or persons forging the stamps 
or marks of either of the two Proof-houses should be liable to the same penalties, 
and in default of payment, to a certain term of imprisonment, etc. It also orders 
that the barrels be proved with the quantity of powder in proportion to the 
various bores. 

About twenty years ago, owing to an agitation by certain persons, who pointed 
out the inefficiency of the proof test, a Committee appointed by the London 
Company and the Birmingham Guardians drew up an amended scale of proof 
and classification of small arms. The new rules were sanctioned by her Majesty's 
Secretary of State, and became compulsory on the first day of April, 1888. It was 
provided by these rules that, on application in writing by the person sending the arm 
for proof, it might be tested with any nitro-compound or explosive in addition to the 
official test with the regulation black gunpowder. In 1893 attention was called to 
the fact that this supplementary proof was rarely employed, and in 1896 new rules 
were substituted by which the testing of all guns intended to be used with nitro- 
explosives is ordered to be made with treble-strong fine-grain sporting powder in. 
addition to the ordinary test with the regulation powder, and they may be submitted 
to any further tests with other explosives, if the sender so requires. Still later, 
in 1904, new rules were formulated and an alteration made in the proof marks. 
The following extracts from the schedules and rules will be found sufficiently full 
to convey the meaning of the Act and to ascertain the proof charges used in 
provisional, definitive, and supplementary proofs of any description of fire-arm. 
The tests at both the London and Birmingham Proof-houses are the same, but, as 
will be explained, the marks difier. 



ClassificatioJi of Small Arms. 

First Class. Comprising Single-barrelled Muzzle-loading Arms of Smooth 

Second Class. Comprising Double-barrelled Muzzle-loading Arms of Smooth 


290 The Gun and its Development. 

Third Class. Muzzle-loading Rifled Arms. 

Fourth Class. Breech-loading Arms of Smooth Bore. 

Fifth Class. Breech-loading Rifled Arms not being of the Sixth, Seventh, and 
Eighth Classes. 

Sixth Class. Express Breech-loading Rifles. 

Seventh Class. Breech-loading Rifled Arms of a bore not exceeding .315 of 
an inch, in which a cartridge capable of containing a full Military Service Charge of 
Nitro-Powder is used. 

Eighth Class. Breech-loading Rifled Arms specially constructed for use with 
Shot and Bullet, having the whole or a portion only of their bore rifled and not 
being of the Fifth Class. 

Ninth Class. Revolving Arms and Repeating Pistols. 

Rules of Proof . 

I. There shall be three kinds of Proof, viz., Provisional, Definitive, and Supple- 
mentary. Provisional proof is the first proof applied to barrels which, according to 
these rules, require two proofs. Definitive proof is that applied as the second proof 
to barrels which require two proofs, also that applied to those which require one 
proof only. Supplementary proof is an additional one applied after the definitive 
proof, according to Rules 17, 18, and 19. 

2. The descriptions of powder used in proof shall, except as provided in Rule 
1 8, be as follows : 

That known as "Tower Proof," or "T.P.," which shall be of strength 
equal to Waltham Abbey, "R.F.G. 2," and of a grain varying between Nos. 
4 and 5. 

That known as Curtis's and Harvey's "T.S. No. 2." 
That known as " Col. Hawker's Duck-Gun Powder," and 
The nitro-powder known as Cordite, or any other description of nitro- 
powder which may hereafter, from time to time, be adopted by His Majesty's 
War Department. 
Provided, nevertheless, that, if any of the powders for the use of which this rule pro- 
vides should be considered by the Two Companies unsuitable for the proof of any 
particular description of barrel, they shall have power to adopt such other powder as 
they may consider to be most suitable, having first obtained the approval of His 
Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the War Department. 

3. The shot used in proof shall be that known as " soft shot," Size No. 6. 

The Proof of Guns. 291 

4. The bullets used in proof shall be of pure lead, except as provided in Rules 
13, 14, 16, 19, and 26, and of such forms as are hereinafter defined in the rules 
relating to the proof of the different classes. 

5. The wads used in proof shall be of felt or other suitable material, and shall 
not exceed in thickness one diameter of the bore. 

6. Barrels for arms of the First Class shall be proved once definitively, and for 
those of the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Classes pro- 
visionally and definitively, except as provided in Rule 24. Provided, nevertheless, 
that barrels for arms of the Second and Third Classes, and for single-barrelled arms 
of the Fourth and Fifth Classes, sent in a state for definitive proof, may, at the 
request in writing of the sender, be proved once only, according to the scale for 
provisional proof, and they shall receive a special definitive proof mark, denoting 
that they have been so proved, as hereinafter provided in Rules 39 and 46. 

7. Barrels for arms of the First Class shall be proved with T. P. Powder and a 
spherical bullet, according to Scale No. i. 

8. Barrels for arms of the Second Class shall be provisionally proved with T.P. 
Powder and a spherical bullet, and definitively proved with T. P. Powder and shot 
according to Scale No. 2, or may be proved once only, as provided in Rule 6. 

9. Barrels for arms of the Third Class shall be provisionally and definitively 
proved with T.P. Powder and a cyhndrical flat-ended bullet, according to Scale No. 3, 
or may be proved once only, as provided in Rule 6. 

10. Barrels for arms of the Fourth Class shall be provisionally and definitively 
proved with T.P. Powder and shot, according to Scale No. 4. Barrels for 
single-barrelled arms of this class may be proved once only, as provided in 
Rule 6. 

II. Barrels of arms of the Fifth Class shall be provisionally proved with T.P. 
Powder and a cylindrical flat-ended bullet. They shall be definitively proved with 
T.P. Powder and a cylindrical flat-ended or cylindro-conoidal bullet, according to 
Scale No. 3. Provided, nevertheless, that, should a barrel be chambered for a 
cartridge which cannot contain the Service Charge defined in the scale, it may 
receive a special definitive proof with a charge based upon the maximum Service 
Charge of such cartridge. Provided also that, should a barrel be intended to be 
used with a larger charge than the Service Charge defined in the scale, the sender 
shall declare the same in writing, and a special definitive proof based upon such 
declraed Service Charge shall be applied. In each case the proportion of Proof 
Charge to Service Charge shall be the same as in the scale. Barrels which have 
received a special definitive proof under this rule shall be marked as hereinafter 

292 The Gun and its Development. 

provided in Rule 52. Barrels for single-barrelled arms of this class may be proved 
once only, as provided in Rule 6. 

12. Barrels for arms of the Sixth Class shall be provisionally proved with T.P. 
Powder and a cylindrical flat-ended bullet, according to Scale No. 3. They shall 
be definitively proved with T.S. No. 2 Powder and a flat-ended bullet, or such other 
form as may be, from time to time, considered to be most suitable, according to 
Scale No. 5. Barrels proved under this rule shall be specially marked, as herein- 
after provided in Rule 53. 

13. Barrels for arms of the Sixth Class specially constructed for the use of 
nitro-powders, shall be so declared in writing, by the sender when presented for 
definitive proof. They shall be definitively proved with Cordite-powder, or such 
other nitro-powder as the Two Companies may, under the provisions of Rule 2, 
consider to be most suitable, and with a nickel-covered bullet, similar in form to 
that of the Service Cartridge for which the barrels are chambered, or of such other 
material and form as may be, from time to time, considered to be most suitable. 
The Service Charge shall be declared in writing by the sender, and the Proof 
Charge shall be such as shall give a stress not less than thirty per cent, over 
that of the Service Charge, as may be readily ascertainable. Barrels proved under 
this rule shall be specially marked, as hereinafter provided in Rule 54. 

14. Barrels for arms of the Seventh Class shall be provisionally proved with 
T.P. Powder and a cyHndrical flat-ended bullet, according to Scale No. 3. They 
shall be definitively proved with Cordite-powder, or such other nitro-powder as the 
Two Companies may, under the provisions of Rule 2, consider to be most suitable, 
and a nickel-covered bullet, of a similar form to that of the Service Cartridge 
for which the barrels are chambered, or of such other material and form as may be, 
from time to time, considered to be most suitable. The Proof Charge shall be such 
as shall give a stress not less than twenty-five per cent., and not more than forty per 
cent, over that of the Service Charge, as may be readily ascertainable. Barrels 
proved under this rule shall be specially marked, as hereinafter provided in Rule 55- 

15. Barrels for arms of the Eighth Class shall be provisionally proved with 
T.P. Powder and shot, according to Scale No. 4 for the Fourth Class. They 
shall be declared in writing by the sender to be of the Eighth Class when presented 
for definitive proof, and shall be proved with T.P. Powder according to Scale No. 
4, with a conical bullet one and three-quarters the weight of the Service Charge of 
shot of the said scale, of a diameter suitable to that of the muzzle of the barrels. 
In case barrels are intended to be used with larger charges of powder than the 
ordinary Service Charge set forth in the said Scale No. 4, they shall be so declared 

The Proof of Guns. 293 

in writing by the sender, and a Proof Charge proportionate thereto shall be applied. 
Barrels proved under this rule shall be specially marked, as hereinafter provided in 
Rule 56. 

16. Arms of the Ninth Class shall be proved with a cartridge of the maximum 
size suitable thereto, and containing such a charge of powder, and such a bullet, as, 
in the opinion of the Two Companies, will cover the Service Charge to be used. 
Revolving Arms shall be proved once definitively in each chamber. Repeating 
Pistols shall be proved definitively, and be fired with the number of shots 
the magazine will contain. Arms of the Ninth Class shall be marked, as hereinafter 
provided in Rule 47. 

17. Barrels for arms of the Fourth and Eighth Classes, in which nitro- 
powders are intended to be used, shall be so declared in writing by the sender, and 
shall receive a supplementary proof, in addition to, and after, the definitive proof 
under Rules 10 and 15, with T.S. No. 2 Powder, according to Scale No. 6, which 
scale has been based on the ordinary Service Charges of the nitro-powders now in 
general use, and which, in the opinion of the Two Companies, do not exert higher 
pressures than those recognised as Standard. In case barrels are intended to 
be used with larger charges of nitro-powders than such ordinary Service Charges, 
then the quantities of powder and shot so intended to be used shall be declared in 
writing by the sender, and a Proof Charge which the Two Companies may decide 
to be suitable shall be applied. Barrels proved under this rule shall be specially 
marked, as hereinafter provided in Rule 57. 

18. Barrels for arms of the Fourth Class may, after having been definitively 
proved under Rule 10, and supplementarily proved under Rule 17, at the request 
in writing of the sender, receive a further supplementary proof with any particular 
description of nitro-powder, in general use, named by him, with a Proof Charge 
which the Two Companies may decide to be most suitable. Bahrels proved under 
this rule shall be specially marked, as hereinafter provided in Rule 58. 

19. Barrels for arms of the Fifth and Eighth Classes may, at the request 
in writing of the sender, receive a supplementary proof, in addition to, and after, 
the definitive proof, with Cordite-powder, or such other nitro-powder as the Two 
Companies may, under the provisions of Rule 2, consider to be most suitable. The 
Service Charge shall be declared in writing by the sender, and such a Proof Charge 
of powder and such a bullet as the Two Companies may decide to be most suitable 
shall be appHed. Barrels proved under this rule shall be specially marked, as here- 
inafter provided in Rule 59. 

20. For Barrels of all Military Arms, sent for proof, manufactured for the 

294 The Gun and its Development. 

British Government, the method of proof shall be the same as that employed by His 
Majesty's War Department. 

21. Barrels for arms of the Fourth, Fifth, and Eighth Classes of 8 Gauge 
having chambers of 4 inches and longer, those of 10, 12 and 14 Gauge having 
chambers of 3 inches and longer, and those of 16 to 32 Gauge having chambers of 
2| inches and longer, shall be so declared in writing by the sender. They shall be 
definitively proved with one-sixth more powder than that used for ordinary 
definitive proof, and shall be marked with a special Chamber mark, as hereinafter 
provided in Rule 50. 

22. Barrels for arms of the Second and Fourth Classes, of a larger Gauge than 
4, for which no charges are laid down in the scales applicable to such classes, shall 
be provisionally proved according to Scale No. i for the First Class. 

23. Barrels for arms of the Second and Fourth Classes, of a larger Gauge than 
4, sent for definitive proof, for which no charges are laid down in the scales 
applicable to such classes, shall have the Service Charge declared in writing by the 
sender, and the Proof Charge shall be twice the weight of powder and one and one- 
third the weight of shot of such Service Charge. The Service Charge shall be 
marked upon the barrels, as hereinafter provided in Rule 60. 

24. Barrels for arms of the First, Second, and Fourth Classes of not less than 
5 feet 6 inches long sha^l be proved once definitively with Col. Hawker's Duck-Gun 
Powder and shot. The Service Charge shall be declared in writing by the sender, 
and the Proof Charge shall be twice the weight of powder, and one and one-third 
the weight of shot of such Service Charge. The Service Charge shall be marked 
upon the barrels, as hereinafter provided in Rule 60. 

25. Barrels for arms of the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Classes which are 
Choke-bored shall be declared to be so, in writing, by the sender when presented 
for definitive proof Choke-bored barrels are such as have the diameter of the bore 
at the muzzle less than at some point behind the muzzle other than the chamber, 
or the cone or lead in front of the chamber. Barrels which are choked "004 of an 
inch may, at the request in writing of the sender, be marked, and those which are 
choked "008 of an inch shall be marked, when proved, as hereinafter provided in 
Rule 51. Barrels which are choked '008 of an inch or more, and not marked as 
provided in Rule 5 1 , are required to be re-proved. 

26. A barrel of any description for which the classification and scales of proof 
do not provide, or to which the said scales are, in the opinion of the Two Companies, 
inapplicable or unsuitable, shall be proved with such a charge of powder, and such 
a bullet or charge of shot, as, in their opinion, is most suitable for such barrel, and 

The Proof of Guns. 295 

they may, if they think fit, require the Service Charge to be declared by the sender. 
In case a barrel shall not be capable of containing such a Proof Charge, as large a 
charge as the barrel will contain shall be applied. Barrels proved under this rule 
shall be marked, as hereinafter provided in Rule 61. 

27. Whenever a barrel is sent for proof chambered for a cartridge of unusual 
size or of a pattern not in general use, the cartridge case required to prove such 
barrel shall be provided by the sender. 

28. The Two Companies will not be responsible for the proper proof or mark- 
ing of, and may refuse to prove, barrels which, according to Rules 13, 17, 18, 19, 
21, 23, 24, and 25, require special definitive proof, supplementary proof, or special 
marking, unless such barrels are accompanied by the necessary requests or declara- 
tions, defined in the said rules, when presented for proof. Provided always that the 
Two Companies may prove and mark barrels unaccompanied by any request or 
declaration in such a manner as, in their opinion, such barrels should be proved 
and marked. 

29. Should a barrel be presented for any special or supplementary proof, which, 
though it may belong to a class to which such proof may be applicable, is unsuited 
to such proof, the Proof Master of the Company to which it is presented may refuse 
to prove it. He may also refuse to prove a barrel declared to be of a certain class, 
which is not of such class, except for the class to which it should belong. 

30. If a barrel which has already been proved and marked with the definitive 
proof and view marks be again presented for definitive or supplementary proof, 
and shall fail to stand proof, the person or persons respectively, who is or are entitled 
to impress the proof and view marks, shall efface the existing marks of definitive 
and supplementary proof therefrom. Should a barrel which has obviously been 
weakened after definitive proof be brought to the notice of the Proof Master of either of 
the Two Companies, it may be re-proved definitively without the consent of the owner. 
Should a barrel be brought to the notice of the Proof Master of either of the Two 
Companies which is in such a condition that it would be impossible to re-prove it, or 
to properly view it, the marks of definitive and supplementary proof may be effaced 
therefrom by the before-mentioned person or persons. 

31. Any barrel which may have been enlarged in the bore after definitive 
proof, so that the bore mark impressed upon it at proof is not a true representation 
of the diameter, shall be required to be re-proved definitively, and if it shall have 
received a supplementary proof, it shall be required to be re-proved supplementarily ; 
such, for example, as an enlargement from f to 8 or y to 12, as set forth in Scale 
No. 4. 

296 The Gun and its Development. 

32. The various powders used in proof shall, at all times, be open to the 
inspection, without notice, of any ofificer authorised for the purpose by the Secretary 
of State for War, who may take samples of the same for examination or trial. 

Conditions Precedent to Proof. 

33.- Barrels for arms of the First Class sent for proof shall be bored and ground 
and in a proper state for setting up, with the squares set off, looped and the proper 
breeches in, with the thread of the screws sound and full. Barrels for percussioned 
arms shall be percussioned and have nipples in. Twisted barrels shall be fine bored 
and struck up. 

34. Barrels for arms of the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and 
Eighth Classes : 

For Provisional Proof. Barrels of plain metal shall be fine bored and 
turned or ground, and those of twisted metal shall be struck up in addition. 
They shall have plugs attached with touchholes drilled in the plugs of a 
diameter not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch. 

For Definitive Proof. All barrels shall be struck up and smoothed, the 
insides shall be clean, the ribs fairly struck up, and such as are Muzzle- 
loading shall have breeches properly percussioned, huts filed up, the proper 
breeches and nipples attached, with the thread of the screw sound and full. 
Barrels for rifled arms shall be rifled. 
35. Barrels for Breech-loading arms shall be definitively and supplementarily 
proved with the action attached. The action shall be finished or in the finished filed 

36. Revolving arms shall have the cylinder or chambers with the revolving 
action and firing work complete and in working order. Repeating pistols shall be 
complete and in working order with the magazine attached. 

Marks of Proof. 

The Marks denoting Provisional Proof shall be as follows : 

As to the Gun-makers' Company (London) : 
The Letters " G P " interlaced in a Cypher surmounted by a 
Lion rampant. 

The Proof of Guns. 297 

As to the Guardians (Birmingham) : 

The Letters " B P " interlaced in a Cypher surmounted by 
a Crown, thus : 

The Marks denoting Definitive Proof shall be as follows : 


As to the Gun-makers' Company : 

The Proof Mark being the letters " G P " interlaced in a 
Cypher surmounted by a Crown, and the View Mark being 
the letter V surmounted by a Crown, thus : 

As to the Guardians : 

The Proof Mark being the Letters B P surmounted by 
a Crown, and the View Mark being the Letters B V sur- DD Q\/ 
mounted by a Crown, thus : t^l U w 

The Mark denoting the special Definitive Proof of barrels proved once 
only, according to Rule 6, shall be as follow^s : 

As to the Gun-makers' Company : 

The Letters " V G P " interlaced in a Cypher surmounted 
by a Lion rampant, thus : 

As to the Guardians : 

The Letters " V B P " interlaced in a Cypher surmounted 
by a Crown : 

The Special Proof Mark applied to barrels proved for use with nitro 
powders according to Rules 13, 14, 17, 18, and 19 shall be as follow : 

As to the Gun-makers' Company : 
Y^\f The Letters " N P" surmounted by an arm Dexter in Armour 

embowed, holding a Scimitar. 

As to the Guardians : Kir^ 

The Letters " N P " surmounted by a Crown, thus : llF 

K * 

298 The Gun and its Development. 

Mode of affixing Proof Marks. 

The proof marks are stamped upon the under-side of each barrel, 
within three inches of the breech the provisional proof mark on the round 
part and the definitive proof mark on the flat and the mark of definitive 
proof {t'ide ante) is also stamped upon the breech-action body, and in rifles 
with movable breech-block, upon the breech-block also. If a gun is double 
proved, both proof marks are on the flats. Revolvers are marked upon 
each chamber, upon the barrel, and upon the frame. 

The gauge size is impressed on all guns at the definitive proof, and on 
guns and choke-bored rifles it is enclosed with the letter " C " in a device 
as shown and explained below. 

In gun barrels from 4- to lo-gauge, the gauge is divided into three parts, 
and is marked accordingly for example, 8, f, |; from 11 to 17 it is divided 
into two, as 12, Y- I^i breech-loading guns the gauge size is taken at a 
point nine inches from the breech end ; in rifles and muzzle-loading guns 
it is taken at the muzzle. On choke-bored barrels the word " choke " is 
added to the proof-marks following the gauge size, and to choke-bored 
rifles " R. Choke " is added. 

The following illustrations show the marks put upon ordinary weapons : 

The marks of the Birmingham Proof House, indicating a simple proof 
of a i2-bore gun. 

R. Choke. 

Marks of the London Proof House, signifying that the barrel has been 
twice proved, that the diameter of the barrel is -740 of an inch, that the 

The Proof of Guns. 


chamber is more than three inches long, that the barrel is rifled and choke- 
bored, and has been proved as required for that description of boring. 


577 EX. 

Marks of the London Proof House for a '577 Express Rifle. 



500 EX. 

Marks of Birmingham Proof for '500 Express Rifle. 















Proof Marks indicating a 400 Bore High Velocity Rifle. Birmingham Proof. 

Barrels proved with T.S.2 fine-grain black gunpowder, as a supple- 
mentary test, are marked in addition, " Nitro Proof, ...oz. Maximum," 
indicating the weight of shot to be used ; as : 

NiTRO Proof li oz. Maximum. 



The marks of the London Proof House upon a barrel intended for use 
with nitro-explosives, and tested with fine-grain black gunpowder ; the 

load of shot to be used not to exceed i| oz. 

Barrels proved with a nitro-explosive as a supplementary test to that 
made for ordinary definitive proof are further marked with the name or 
abbreviation of the name of the explosive used in the test, together with 


The Gun and its Development. 

numbers showing the maximum service charges of powder in grains, and 
shot in ounces, that may be used, as for example : 



The marks of the Birmingham Proof House for 12-gauge choke-bored 
shot-gun, tested for use with a maximum charge of 45 grains of Schultze 
powder and i ^ oz. of shot. 

In like manner, the barrels of punt guns and other large bores have the 
service charge marked in drams and ounces, following the proof and view 
marks of the ordinary kind. 

On barrels for arms of the Eighth Class, definitively proved according 
to rule 15, which are rifled through their full length, the letters " S & B," 
signifying Shot and Bullet, shall be impressed, following the definitive proof 
mark or chamber mark, thus 

" S. & B." 


(Fourth Class.) 





Diameter of 

Bore by 

Provisional Proof. 

Definitive Proof. 

Service Charge. 

Powder T. P. 


Powder T. P. 







I 001 ^ 







1 42 1 











The Proof of Guns. 301 


K >>.2 

V V 


Provisional Proof. 

Definitive Proof. 

Service Charge. 

Powder T. P. Shot. 

' Powder T. P. 


















888 ' 




























813 - 



984 ^ 







784 - 



711 - 


















711 J 












































8| . 



The Gun and its Development. 





Q O 

Provisional Proof. 

Definitive Proof. 

Service Charge. 

Powder T. P. Shot. 

Powder T. P. 


Powder. Shot. 






8i ~ 













655 -k 









2i : 437 





71 J 

















7 1 

















6i ^ 








- 338 



















5i ^ 











li 246 








506 J 




4i . 


The Proof of Guns. 



See Rule 17. 

No. of Gauge. 

Charge of Powder, T.S.2. 

Charge of Shot. 

Shot Service 






























12 extra* 















602 ' If 





574 ; ii\" 





520 1 Ifv 





492 1 li 





355 ' \l 





246 j i*s 



* Exlra-long cartridge chambers. 

The marks of the Birmingham Proof House, which were in use prior to 

August I St, 1904, are as follows : 

These marks were applied in the same way as those at present in use, and 
arms bearing such marks may be legally dealt with. Further information, together 
with full scales for all classes of arms, may be obtained from the " Schedule " 
issued by the Combined Proof Houses. 

304 The Gun and its Development. 

mode of proving. 

A description of the modus operandi in the proof of gun barrels may be interesting 
to sportsmen and gun-makers in those countries in which no proof-house exists. 
The system of proving at both the Birmingham and London proof-houses is 
identical. Each barrel passes through the proof-house with a number attached to 
it, so that the name of the owner or maker is not known to the workmen, who 
therefore have no opportunity, if they were so willed, of spoiling the article from 
spite or malice a;gainst the maker. Before the barrel is sent into the loading-room 
it is gauged by plugs and stamped with a number. The workman whose duty 
it is to stamp the barrels stands at a bench upon which fifty or sixty numbered steel 
punches are arranged in order. Corresponding to these are numbered gauging- 
plugs, varying in size from that of a pea up to two inches. Having ascertained the 
exact bore of the barrel by means of one of these plugs, he takes up a punch, 
bearing a similar number to the plug, and stamps that number upon the barrel 
say seventeen. The man whose duty it is to load the barrel, seeing the number, is 
able to judge of the proper amount of loading to put in it. Leaving this room and 
following a short tramway, along which the barrels are conveyed, vve come to the 
" Loading-Room." Here everything is done by rule and measure, every precaution 
taken to ensure safety, and every means used to prevent fraud. The room is 
divided into three compartments by strong brick walls, so that, should an explosion 
occur in either, the injury would be confined to the division in which it took place. 
The floors of these rooms are always kept damp and well swept. In the first com- 
partment the barrels are loaded by one man, who has the barrels arranged round the 
room. In front of him is a rack of copper measures numbered successively from 
one to about fifty ; upon ascertaining the number stamped upon the barrel by the 
man in the receiving-room, he takes up one of the measures bearing a corresponding 
number, and having filled it with gunpowder from a bowl by its side, he places 
the charge in the barrel ; he next takes a proper-sized felt wad from a numbered 
box corresponding with the bores, and afterwards a second felt wad, with which he 
loads the barrel. 

Thus loaded, the barrels are passed into the next compartment, where the 
charge is duly rammed home with copper rods prepared for the purpose. The 
barrel is then passed on to the third compartment, where it is primed, and then 
transported into the firing-room. The firing-room is a large lofty building lined 
throughout with sheet iron, and has ventilators ; in the roof and the windows are 
apertures, capable of being immediately closed, with iron shutters arranged upon 

The Proof of Guns. 


the same principle as the Venetian blind. The barrels are arranged upon a grooved 
rack, and fired by a train of gunpowder which connects the breech vents with each 
other. The train is fired by a percussion cap, which is detonated by a hammer 
working on a pivot and pulled from the outside ; the door is of iron, and it and the 

Proving Gun Barrels at Birminsfham. 

shutter are closed before firing. After the train is fired the doors and shutters are 
opened, the smoke allowed to clear off, and the barrels may be seen then partially 
buried in a sand heap behind the rack ; the bullets are shot into the sand heap on 
the other side of the room. The barrels are then collected, and those that have 
through any cause missed fire are re-primed and again placed on the rack; the 

3o6 The Gun and its Development. 

other barrels are conveyed to the inspecting rooms, where they are washed out, 
inspected, and, if found perfect, marked according to the Proof Act. 

The hot water test is not now used, but in case of doubt as to a crack the barrel 
is tested in a machine by hydraulic pressure up to 600 lbs. 

Common barrels have to stand for twenty-four hours before being cleaned or 
looked over, so that if any flaws are in the barrels the action of the acid residue from 
the powder will eat into them and make the flaws more apparent. 

The plan of proving described and illustrated is provisional proof, when the 
barrels are in tubes: when the tubes stand proof, they recoil straight into the bank ; 
those that burst fly about in all directions. P'or definitive proof, when the barrels 
are together and have the breech-actions attached, each barrel is fired separately. 
The guns when loaded are taken to the lobby of the firing-room, and one gun is 
taken into the room and proved at a time ; the barrels and breech-actions are fixed 
upon and fastened to a travelling block of the required shape, and fired by means 
of hammers dropping upon a striker which strikes the cap in the cartridge. The 
hammer is pulled by a cord passing through a hole in the wall. Various-shaped 
blocks are provided to suit the various-sized and differently constructed single-rifle 
breech-actions. Should any flaws or defects be discovered after proving the 
barrels, they are returned to the maker, who remedies them as best he can, 
and returns them for proof Best barrels are frequently burst at proof, but they 
are more often bulged, in which case the bulges are knocked down by the 
maker, and the barrel re-proved until it either bursts or stands proof It is 
said that in one case a barrel was proved and bulged eight times, but that it 
stood all right after being proved the ninth time. In the definitive proof the 
weak breech-actions are frequently blown to pieces, or else made to gape at 
breech, in which case the maker hammers the false breech till close and case- 
hardens it, and when again proved it generally stands. The proving of breech- 
actions is very necessar)', as it prevents, in a great measure, dangerous common 
breech-actions being sold. 


Apart from the fact that the tests of provisional and definitive proof are of use 
to the gun-maker, they are, or can be made, of much service to the public by 
preventing the issue of unsound guns. In this connection it may be of use to cite a 
few figures with reference to some of the work done by the Birmingham Proof 
House in the past. It is known that Birmingham gunsmiths at the beginning 

The Proof of Guns. 307 

of the last century (1804-1815) supplied to the Government no less than 3,037,644 
barrels, including 32,582 rifles, and 1,743,382 finished arms, including 14,695 rifles. 
When tested at the Proof House the bursts or breaks averaged only two per 
thousand. An ordinary year's work at the Birmingham Proof House means about 
half a million proof tests. 

Taking a return of a recent year, it shows upon analysis that common barrels 
are the most often rejected " African " barrels, for instance. Of these, out of 
209,765 received, 6,851 were broken in proof, 1,168 rejected with split breech 
plugs, and 5,828 for unsound breeching. Of twisted tubes, etc., rejected at the 
first proof, 2,930 were cracked, 856 broken, 2,807 bulged, 297 breech plugs blown 
out, 232 with unsound breeching, 22 with blown nipples. Of steel and plain iron 
tubes, 1,420 were broken and 390 rejected for other faults. Of common saddle 
pistols, 98 were broken. 

With reference to the definitive proof, which is the more important as protecting 
the public rather than as guiding the gun-maker to throw away imperfect barrels 
before working upon them, fuller details may be of interest. 

Of twisted muzzle-loading barrels, 645 were cracked, 373 broken, 488 bulged, 
97 had nipples blown out, 271 were rejected for unsound breeches, 38 for faulty 
insides. Of plain iron and steel barrels, 252 were rejected. 

Of the breech-loading guns : cylinder shot-guns, 409 rejected with cracked 
barrels, 174 with broken barrels, 407 with bulged barrels, 474 with faulty breech- 
actions, 67 with faulty insides. The chokes numbered 41,000 against 52,000 
cylinders, and of these only 50 were rejected with cracked barrels. 33 with 
broken barrels, 145 with bulged barrels, 97 with unsound breech-actions, none 
had faulty insides. Of the large-bore barrels only i bulged, and 4 had faulty 

It is to be regretted that the Gun Barrel Proof Act does not apply to the 
English Colonies ; the colonial authorities might with advantage to themselves pass 
a measure excluding unproved arms and recognise only the marks of those Proof 
Houses in which the gun-barrel tests are compulsory, and, as in England, the scale 
of charges directly in the control of the Government. 


The proving of gun barrels has been compulsory in Belgium since 1672, the 
date at which it became compulsory in England. Three proofs are required on 
breech-loaders the first two, like the provisional proof in England, being intended 
to safeguard the gun-maker ; the third to protect the public. 


The Gun and its Development. 

The tests now approximate those current at the English Proof Houses ; until 
1892 they were inferior, but in that year Germany made gun-barrel proving 
compulsory, and adopted the English tests with slight alterations ; accepting, too, 
arms proved at the English Proof Houses without further tests on importation, but 
rejecting those proved in Belgium. The Belgian Proof-house authorities then 
promptly adopted the higher standard. 

There are Proof Houses at St. Etienne in France, at Wiepert and Ferlach in 
Austria, at Buda-Pesth and possibly at other towns ; but in those countries the 
proving is not compulsory, and the tests imposed do not command the recognition 
given to those of England, Germany, and Belgium. 

For purposes of reference and guidance, the marks of the establishments known 
as public Proof Houses are reproduced in facsimile. It is customary to mark all 
barrels at or near the breech end. 


Tt would seem best in testing guns for safety to use a stronger powder than 
that likely to be used for sporting purposes, or to increase the load not the charge 
thereby increasing the pressure in the chamber. Nitro-compounds do not 
produce the same kind of stress when fired with different charges, nor is the 
increase of pressure with increase of powder charge regular, so to test with them is 
not all-sufficient. It is quite possible that a proof charge of such explosive would 
ruin a gun which in all circumstances of ordinary sporting use would have proved a 
safe and effectual weapon. On the other hand, a gun which may stand the proof 
test with a nitro-explosive successfully may give way when fired with an ordinary 
sporting charge of some other nitro-explosive, or with the same nitro-explosive 
under different conditions. 


On the Barrel. On the Action. 

FRANCE ^,^. ^^ 

(PARIS). QvyQ 

(St. Etienne 

Foreign arms French arms made 
proved in elsewhere than at 

France. St. Etienne. 


The Proof of Guns. 




On the Barrel. 

On the Rifles and 
Action. Revolvers. 

The No. of 
Calibre in 




First Proof. 


Second Proof. 



The No. of Cylinder Choke Rifles. 

Calibre as Barrels. Barrels. 

Double Proof 



V S W G S 



J > 

P'irst Proof. Second Proof. Third Proof. 

3. ^ ^ 

First Proof. Second Proof. Third Proof. 
I ^^ ^_, ^^ 




Definite Proof. 

Single Barrels 


Double Barrels. 

31 o The Gun and its Development 



The chief tests to which sporting fire-arms are submitted are : first, those to 
determine the soundness and strength of the weapon ; second, those to ascertain 
the shooting capabilities either of the gun with the standard charge, or of various 
charges in any particular gun. 

To the first division belong the ordinary proof tests, which consist of the firing 
of very heavy charges. The pressure exerted by the charges used for proving and 
the pressures produced by ordinary sporting charges of various powders have been 
ascertained relatively by means of the crusher gauge. 

To the second class belong the chronographs, for measuring the time occupied 
in the flight of a projectile or pellets between two or more points ; the various 
devices for ascertaining penetration ; and the force-gauge, designed by the late 
J. H. Walsh, to record the striking force at impact of the shot pellets. There is 
also the rotating target, used by Mr. R. W. S. Griffith, of the Schultze Company, to 
show the order of the pellets during flight and ascertain the velocity of individual 

The machine-rest designed by the late editor of The Field is used for the purpose 
of recording the recoil of guns and rifles, and there are various instruments for 
ascertaining the relative strength of explosives, and one for testing the force of 
percussion caps, which merit more than the brief mention that can be here 


The crusher gauge is, as is shown, a gun barrel fitted with means for firing at 
the breech, and having holes bored through the thick barrel at various points 
between breech and muzzle. Perfectly fitting stoppers are placed in these holes, 
and they are kept in position by a lead or copper plug or disc, which in turn is 

Tests and Test-recording Instruments. 


supported by a steel screw. The internal pressure at the time of firing acts upon the 
stoppers, and they, being driven outward by the pressure, squeeze the lead or 
copper plugs against the steel screws holding them in position. The plugs being 
of uniform density, and of exactly the same size and thickness, this reduction of 
their thickness is used as a basis for calculating the force exerted ; but the 

The Crusher Gauge. 

deductions, in whatever terms they may be expressed, must be regarded as 
comparative only. 

In a modification used by Mr. Borland, of the " E.G." Powder Company, two 
crusher plugs are used and the reading taken over a much larger area than the 
twenty-fifth of an inch usually represented. The pistons are fitted opposite each 
other in the barrel and connected by a strong metal ring. One of the pistons has 
an area exceeding that of the other by "oi of a square inch, so that upon the 

312 The Gun and its Development. 

explosion taking place, although the ring moves as though actuated by a very small 
piston, the motion is really the result of the average pressure on the area of the two 
plugs. The advantage of a record produced from a greater area is obvious, and by 
taking the pressure from opposite sides of the barrels at the same time some of the 
effects of wave pressures have been eliminated. 

Instead of computing the force from measurements of lead or copper discs 
subjected to that force, Mr. Borland has employed the raising of a dead-weight. 
The piston bears a load which may be so adjusted that the limits of weight between 
which motion is and is not recorded are an index to the pressure exerted by the 

The crusher gauge is of chief use for determining the strength of various 
explosives, and for ascertaining at what point in the length of the barrel the 
pressure is greatest, and to what extent it diminishes as the muzzle is approached. 
It has also been of use in showing to what extent variations in the charges of 
powder and load of shot affect the pressure, and how the pressure is increased by 
different obstructions in the barrel. 

Particulars of the records registered with the crusher gauge, and some comments 
upon the yalue of the work done by the instrument, are given in the chapters on 
" Explosives " and " Internal Ballistics." 


Until the use of various nitro-explosives in sporting guns led to the differences 
due to various qualities of ignition being observed, the only test thought necessary 
to apply to percussion caps of breech-loading cartridges was the relation to the 
strength of blow requisite to detonate them. In shooting, so much depends 
upon the uniformity of the ignition that the cap-testing apparatus devised by 
Mr. Borland, of the " E.G." Powder Company, is a distinct boon, and more than 
anything else will lead to the standardising of caps for various arms and special 

Mr. Borland regarded the cap as an explosive charge, and produced instruments 
to measure the work it is capable of performing, the time in which the work was 
done, and the variations due to alterations in the strength of the blow used to 
produce the detonation. The details of the early experiments to determine the 
best methods of ascertaining and recording the strength of the caps are too full to 
be given here ; they, as well as descriptions and illustrations of the machines, are 
contained in the Sporting Goods Review, Vol. IV. 

314 The Gun and its Development. 

The sensitiveness of caps is measured by the height from which a dead-weight of 
2 oz. must fall to detonate them properly. Twelve inches should be sufficient, but 
some caps require a 30-inch fall. The shape of the striker affects the issue 
considerably ; the ogival head will detonate with less weight -than the hemispherical 

Three methods of observation are usual to determine whether the detonation is 
efficient. The sound of the explosion there is no probability of mistaking a miss- 
fire or fizzle. The flash may be received on paper, and the extent of the charring 
and residue afford the required indication. The explosive result may be measured. 
After various experiments, the means decided upon as being the best for the purpose 
consist of a steel bolt which, by the force of the explosion of the cap, is driven to 
compress or cut off soft lead plugs. The boll, or plunger, carries a knife or chisel, 
which rests upon a plug or small cylinder of lead, the 2 oz. weight is held by an 
electric magnet, and on the current being severed, falls upon the striker in the 
hinged cap over the cylinder in which the cartridge case, or cap, in a suitable holder 
is placed. The explosion acts upon a piston connected with the bolt or plunger, the 
chisel edge of which is driven into the lead plug placed in the anvil below. With 
the help of the chronograph the machine may be made to measure the time elapsing 
between the fall of the weight upon the cap and the movement of the piston, thus 
giving the time occupied by the explosion of the fulminate. 

To determine the w^eight of the blow given by the gun-striker, Irvine's gun-lock 
tester is used. It is based on the principle of notching lead discs, the blow of the 
striker acting in lieu of a weight and driving the piston against the lead disc. The 
leads are contained in a dummy cartridge case, the piston occupying the place of 
the cap ; a micrometer screw gauge fits into the fore part of the instrument, and the 
readings of the depth of the notch, produced by the fall of the hammer, may be read 
as foot-ounces, since the drop is calculated as three-fourths of an inch, which is a 
sixteenth part of a foot : 2 lbs. dropped f inch gives "028 indentation ; 10 lbs., same 
distance, "060; and 14 lbs., '070 of an inch. 


The chronograph is an electrical instrument by which the time occupied by 
the fiight of a projectile from one point to another may be so recorded that by 
calculation its speed is ascertainable in feet per second. The first instrument of 
the kind was the Navez-Leurs chronoscope, which consisted of two pendulums 
suspended in identical axes, and so arranged that they could be retained at either 

Bouleng^'s Chronograph. 

3i6 The Gun and its Development. 

end of their swing by magnets. The circuit of one magnet was connected by 
wires with a screen some distance in front of the gun, the other by wires to a 
screen 120 feet distant from the first screen. When the projectile passed through 
the first screen, the current was interrupted and the pendulum fell ; on the second 
screen being reached by the projectile the second pendulum fell. By a clamping 
device and an index needle, the distance one pendulum was behind the other was 
recorded, and served as an accurate time basis for calculating the speed of the 
projectile. Professor Bashforth's chronograph consists of a vertical paper-covered 
drum, with a heavy fly-wheel on the arbor, to prevent unequal motion. This is 
rotated by clockwork. The registering apparatus consists of two electro-magnets 
actuating separate pens, the one recording the vibrations of a half-seconds' 
pendulum, the other the passage of the projectile through each screen. The next 
instrument is the revolving drum invented by Colonel Schultze. The drum is 
driven at a high speed by clockwork, and on the surface, covered with lamp-black, 
a true record is made by a tuning-fork kept in vibration electrically. This and 
the preceding instrument, with later improvements, are still used, but chiefly for 
recording the velocities inside large cannon. 

The Boulenge was made when velocities higher than 1,000 feet per second 
were uncommon ; now that velocities are much higher the instrument has needed 
important modification, and at present, chiefly through the improvements of Colonel 
Holden, it is possible with it to ascertain difi'erences in velocity as little as two 
feet per second. 

This chronograph consists of a heavy brass pillar supporting two electro- 
magnets. From the upper one a long rod hangs ; around the rod is a soft 
cartouche. When the shot passes the first screen, or leaves the muzzle, as the 
case may be, the electric circuit is interrupted and the rod falls. A shorter rod 
hangs from the lower magnet ; it is released when the projectile reaches the next 
screen. It falls upon a trigger, which releases a marking knife ; this knife then 
comes sharply into contact with the cartouche on the longer rod whilst falling 
from the upper magnet. The distance the rod falls before being struck is 
accurately measured by means of a Vernier rule, reading in i,oooths of an inch ; 
the distance is convertible into time, and the time occupied by the flight of the 
shot thus ascertained. Numerous safeguards and checks are used to ensure the 
right strength of current and uniformity of action of every part of the instrument. 
The wire is now usually attached to the muzzle of the rifle or gun, and the 
chronographs are used in paii-s, so that there may be less chance of passing an 
erroneous record. 

Tests and I'est-kecording /nstxu.wejvts. 317 

penetration tests. 

T/ie Pettitt Pad. 

For rifles the penetration of solid pine, beech, oak, or other woods ; one-inch 
or three-inch planks ; thin steel plates ; sand ; untamped clay ; masonry and other 
materials are used. For shot-guns the old way was the penetration of a number of 
pieces of brown paper. Usually these were cut into squares 9I x io|^, and piled on 
each other, making a compact, solid, and almost impenetrable pad. The Pettitt 
pad, as it was named, afforded a ready but an inefificient test; for it is susceptible 
to every change of weather, and it is very diflicult to get any large number of pads, 
even if all are made at about the same date, to be equal in resisting qualities. For 
this reason they have been generally discarded. It was usual to count as pene- 
tration the largest number of sheets through which three pellets had passed. 

1 he Copper and Water Tests. 
Thin copper plates, superposed, have been used for the purpose of registering 
the penetration of pellets from shot-guns. They are expensive, and in no way 
superior to the strawboards hereafter described. Another plan is to fire into a 
trough of water, the face being a penetrable gelatinous sheet, which closes imme- 
diately the pellets have passed, thus preventing the leakage of the water. A tray 
divided into half-inch divisions lies at the bottom of the trough ; it is raised after 
the gun has been fired, and the position of the shot pellets in the various divisions 
of the tray forms a basis for calculating the penetration or striking force of the shot. 


For any sportsman wishing to make a private trial of a gun the easiest plan is to 
follow that used at the Chicago Gun Trial of 1879; and the readiest, most simple, 
and certain way of registering the force or penetration of the shot is by an apparatus 
similar to the one there used and illustrated here. It consists of a wooden frame 
about 30 in. in length, 6 in. wide, and 7 in. deep, made of deal i in. thick, 
strengthened by an angle-iron facing. Sheets of strawboard are slid into the rack, 
and kept f-in. from each other by slips of wood nailed to the inner sides of the 
rack. The rack is placed upon a stand, so as to raise it about 4 ft. from the 

The strawboard is of common quality, of an uniform texture, and not of ^ 
fibrous nature. Sheets cut suitable for the rack weigh 25 to the lb., and are not 
half so expensive as the Pettitt pad. Usually, 25 to 30 sheets are ample for 


The Gun and its Development. 

testing the penetration of each shot, but the rack is constructed for 40 sheets. The 
same sheets may be used several times by turning or marking off with pencil, so 
that each shot can cost but little over a penny to test. 

For gun-makers and gentlemen especially those who are not used to finely- 
adjusted and fragile machines this st?)ipk, ready, and efficient means of testing the 
striking force offers many advantages over the one used at the London Trials of 

Rack for Testing Penetration. 

1879. As the holes are punched clean through by the shot, no dispute can be 
raised, and there is no fine adjustment and reading of the machine. 

The atmosphere will cause the resisting power of the strawboard to vary to a 
very slight extent, but all charges fired on the same day may be compared (and to 
be strictly correct, all guns at any trial should be fired on the same day), so that the 
slight variation in the cardboard need not enter into any calculation, but larger size 
shot penetrating an equal number of sheets will, of course, show slightly more 
penetrative force than the smaller. 

In the notes in Chapter XIV., relating to the performances of average guns 
with different charges and sizes of shot, the penetration of strawboards is given ; 
the figures recorded were all obtained by means of the rack and boards used as 
specified here. 


This instrument was invented by the late J. H. Walsh (" Stonehenge "), and 
was used at the London Gun and Explosives Trials of 1879. It is based 
upon the principle of the old-fashioned balista, or pendulum, but in lieu of moving 
a dead weight, the resistance to the force of the shot at impact is supplied by a 
spring. The value of the " striking force " is computed from the known value of a 
blow from a hammer of a given weight falling from a given height ; such a hammer 
is still used to regulate the tension of the spring, as shown. 

Jests and Test- recording Instruments. 


It will be seen that the face-plate, a a, is a lo-in. steel target, from which the 
force of the pellets striking it is registered. It is fastened to the platform and 
swung from the frame of the machine, d d, by four parallel rods, c c (two on each 

side). Upon the target, a a, being struck by the shots, it is forced back on the 
short arm of the lever,/, the friction being minimised by the roller, k. The long 
arm, ^, is shaped at the top to receive a vulcanite pointer, which bears upon the 


The Gun and its Developme.\t. 

enamelled glass plate and traverses it from end to end ; / /, is the scale ; / and j 
are springs for registering the force of the blow, which is marked by the vulcanite 
pointer upon the enamelled glass plate. 


The rest from which guns were fired at the London Gun Trials is not widely 
different in principle from some used years ago for rifle shooting. Such rests 
record the result more or less accurately, but, as shown at the London Field Rifle 

The Field Machine Gun Reit. 

Trials of 1883, are not so accurate as the ordinary gun-maker's or rifleman's rest 
for testing the shooting of a weapon. \\\ the illustration the frame, a a a a, of ash 
and mahogany, is cut away. The frame being made of ash yields to the force 
of the explosion, and imitates the human shoulder far better than any iron or 
perfectly rigid machine rest ; bh b\% z. platform supported on two hinged parallel 
uprights; the gun is affixed to this platform or slide by thi blocks, c c, whicli are 

Tests and Test-recording Instruments. 


cut out to receive the barrels, which are further embraced by a padded clip 
adjusted by the thumbscrews ; ^ is a double wedge dropping down to catch 
shoulder of c when gun recoils. The recoil is registered by an ordinary steam 
locomotive gauge, /, adjusted by a screw, and having a travelling indicator. In 
this trial the gauge was set at 80 lbs. In setting the machine a correct aim may 
be taken, as the rest is capable of being moved perpendicularly by the adjusting 
screw, g, and transversely by the screw ^ of course, a wheel-plate is necessary in 
the fore-part, to admit of these movements i, the stock of gun fixed ready for 
firing, and held firmly by the leather breeching, tightened by means of a screw- 
pad, k, on the principle of the surgical instrument known as the tourniquet ; when 
once set, the gun was supposed not to require any readjustment, but experience 
proves that the recoil of each shot affects the machine, or the position of the weapon 
in it, to such a degree that after each shot a re-alignment of the weapon is necessary 
to obtain accurate shooting. The gun is discharged by a cord being brought to 
press against the triggers. 

The Field Gun-rest and Recoil-gauge New Model. 

A new mechanical rest was devised for the use of the Field tests in 1890,. 
chiefly because by the machine designed by Mr. Walsh "no definite dynamic value 
could be assigned to recoil records based on the static ' pounds ' marked on the 
scale of the spring balance, as the resistance of the spring is not constant, but 
increases with each notch on the scale. Consequently, no absolute comparison 
could be made between the amount of energy indicated by the velocity of a shot"^ 

322 The Gun and its Development. 

charge and that exhibited by the recoil of the gun from which the charge had 
been fired." 

" In the new mechanical rest, an endeavour has been made to remedy these 
imperfections. The apparatus is constructed almost entirely of iron, and thus is 
rendered comparatively light and portable ; and, inasmuch as the energy of the 
gun's recoil is indicated by definite weights being lifted or moved through measured 
amounts of space, the records thus obtained are convertible into ' foot-pounds ' of 
work done." 

A is an iron frame placed near to the ground, and resting on three small 
standards or feet, b, immediately under the gun, is a fixed platform supported by 
the iron tripod ccc. This platform limits the travel of the recoiling portion of the 
rest, and also carries the scale, k, by which the recoil is measured. d is the 
recoiling platform, to which the gun is attached, at e, by a universal joint. At f 
the, barrels of the gun are supported by a V-shaped groove ; and the barrels are 
held in position before firing by a strong indiarubber band shown in front of the 
groove. The elasticity of this band allows the gun, on being fired, to behave in 
just the same manner as it would do if it were fired from the shoulder. The recoil- 
ing platform, d, is supported by the parallel motion gg, moving on centres at the 
top and bottom of the rods. 

H is a spring balance connected with the parallel motion by the toggle-joint i. 
The toggle-joint is an important feature in this gun- rest, as the varying strength of 
the spring is equalised by its means, and the gun therefore recoils against a constant 

J is an oil reservoir containing a cylinder and piston, which automatically bring 
the gun slowly back to the firing position after it has been discharged. This 
arrangement is very convenient for ordinary target work ; but when, for experimental 
purposes, it is desired to ascertain the recoil with great exactness, the oil reservoir 
is detached and a ratchet and pawl are used instead ; but, of course, their use gives 
some little additional trouble. 

K is the marker, which records on the scale the extent of recoil, as measured in 
inches, with tenths and hundredths of an inch. 

" Under ordinary conditions of use, the machine stands on the ground, in the 
position shown in the illustration, and the gun is fired in a horizontal direction. 
For the purpose, however, of ascertaining definitely what the work performed in the 
recoil movement actually amounts to, a number of experiments have been carried 
out with the machine suspended vertically, a few yards above ground the gun 
being fired with the muzzle pointing downwards. In such case the recoil must 

Tests and Test-recording Instruments. 323 

necessarily take an upward direction ; and (the spring having been temporarily 
detached) the gun, in its recoil, has to lift up its own weight, together with the 
operative weight of the movable portion of the machine. The space through which 
this combined weight is raised is registered on the scale of the machine ; and from 
these data, of weight lifted and height of lift, the amount of work done can be 
readily calculated." 


All the instruments are alike in recording of the results the tests by lineal 
measure ; but for convenience these figures are sometimes converted into others 
denoting the nature as well as the amount of work done. 

For instance, the chronograph indicates distance, and the figures are read as 
speed. The recording rod, dropped the instant the bullet leaves the muzzle, is 
marked instantly the bullet reaches the screen ; the distance the rod has fallen in 
this interval is ascertained, but since the speed at which the rod fell is known, as is 
also the distance the bullet traversed, the distance has to be multiplied by the time, 
in order to get the average speed per second of the bullet. If the rod falls only 
12 inches at the ascertained rate of 16 feet per second, whilst the bullet traverses 
120 feet, the average velocity of the bullet is computed as 1,920 feet per second; 
but of course it left the muzzle at a higher velocity and reached the target at a 
lower one. 

The conversion of distance into time is much more satisfactory than the con- 
version of the measurements of the crushings of lead or copper or the motion given 
to dead-weights, as in the recoil rest and force gauge into terms of kinetic energy, 
because the work is done in varying periods of time, which differences the in- 
struments fail to record. 

For instance, the cap-testing machine indicates the strength exerted by caps by 
cuts of various depths notched in a leaden plug. The cuts may be gauged in micro- 
meter callipers, and the results are most accurately expressed by. the actual measure- 
ments obtained, and from them a satisfactory curve may be constructed, showing the 
relative "notching strength" of caps of different values or exploded under varying 
conditions, but to express the results in terms of energy^ as foot-pounds, can be 
only an approximation to the truth, for notches of equal depth might be produced by 
heavy weights falling from a low height, light weights from a greater height, or the 
continued pressure of a still heavier weight simply resting upon the chisel. 

In the same way the translating of crushings of lead and copper plugs to figures 
purporting to express the values in tons per square inch, although relatively correct 

324 The Gun and its Development. 

to scale, may not be the absolutely equivalent readings of the energy the compression 
of any one plug recorded. 

According to Captain Noble, although " the crusher-gauges may give approxi- 
mately the pressures that actually existed during an infinitesimal portion of time, 
such pressures must not be taken as correctly indicating the pressure due to the 
density and temperature of the explosion." 

To obtain even approximately accurate registration by the crusher it is necessary 
that the cylinder crushed shall be capable of supporting without motion pressures 
very near to those which it is desired to measure. If the compression of the plug 
or cylinder is large, part of it must be due to the energy impressed upon the cylinder 
during its motion, and consequently will be in excess of the actual local pressure 
within the barrel. 

Captain Noble says further : " Although I do not deny that crusher-gauges 
placed in the chamber of a gun may give valuable indications, I still consider that 
unless confirmed by independent means the accuracy of these results is not to be 
relied upon. Where gases and other products of combustion are in extremely rapid 
motion there is always a probability of a portion being forced into the gauge at a 
high velocity, and so affecting the record." 

Another way of ascertaining pressures at different parts of the bore is to use 
barrels of different lengths, fire them under the same conditions, and from the 
calculated muzzle velocities compute the pressure. It is not possible by this method 
to ascertain, even approximately, the minimum local pressure at any point within the 
bore ; it permits only of the pressure on the base of the bullet being computed. 

Foot-pounds, tons per square inch, striking force, etc., etc., are terms used more 
or less exactly as denoting the energy as computed by various formulae, from lineal 
measures shown upon some recording instrument. The terms, if convertible, may 
not be rightly converted by the formulae at present used for their translation ; in all 
probability these calculations will be corrected and modified in the light of further 
research, and, in truth, the recoil gauges seem to show that the doctrine, "action and 
reaction are equal and opposite," is hardly correct in the restricted sense in which 
it is employed in the formulae used by musketry experts. 

On the other hand, the many experiments made with the various instruments 
prove that their action is correct ; the simple readings give figures of relative value, 
and from these curves may be constructed to demonstrate differences recorded- 
beyond much is conjecture, for by whatever names the results derived from the 
recorded results are known, it must not be forgotten that the instruments themselves- 
are limited to the expression of lineal measures. 

Tests and Test-recording Instruments. 


This will explain why some series of experiments give results widely different 
from others of similar character and made in like conditions ; why it is pressures 
are stated in some instances to be only a thousand pounds or so to the square inch, 
and others expressed in figures denoting tons to the square inch. If the values of 
each series be shown in curves the resemblance will be seen, and as in each case the 
zero differs and is arbitrarily and probably erroneously constructed, the wide dis- 
parity between one series and another will disappear. 

Less diverse results might be obtained if the same bore of barrel, and particularly 
the same size of plugs and crusher pistons, were used. It is suggested that Eley's 
standard plugs should be generally employed. The following table gives the 
equivalent tons of pressure to the square inch for respective crushings of their leads 
of 325 diameter and half-inch thickness by pistons "225 inch in diameter. 


























I 32 






4 "44 


























































2 "06 










3 06 














































































2 50 




























4 '20 


















4 '94 


































The Gun and its Development. 


THE GUN TRIALS OF 1 858-59-66. 

Breech-loaders v. Muzzle-loaders. 

Mr. J. H. Walsh. 
(Reproduced from "British Rural Sports," by permission of Warm & Co 

The circumstances which 
led to the first of the long 
series of gun trials instituted 
by the Field newspaper 
were briefly stated by the 
late editor, Mr. J. H. Walsh 
(" Stonehenge "), in the fol- 
lowing paragraph : 

" At the close of 1857, in 
undertaking the editorship of 
the department of the Field 
connected with shooting, I 
found its columns deluged with 
an angry correspondence on 
the comparative merits of the 
breech-loader and muzzle- 
loader. Statements and 
counter-statements were made, 
week after week, all of which 
could not possibly be true, since 
many of them were is direct 
opposition to each other; 
theories were propounded of 
the most visionary kind ; yet, 
as generally happens, their 
inventors expected them to be 
received as conclusive of the 
opinion to support which they 
were brought forward. The 
battle had raged for several 
months, but after all this 
) ' bubble, bubble, toil and 

Public Gun Trials. 327 

trouble,' no one was convinced, and the question was left exactly where it was when 
the correspondence commenced. But as numerous good sportsmen seemed really desirous 
of ascertaining with something like exactness the real merits of these guns, it was deter- 
mined to give them a public trial, and the task of making the arrangements was undertaken 
by myself. The two Gun Trials of 1858 and 1859 were carried out with great care and 
trouble, and the real pretensions of Muzzle-loaders and Breech-loaders have been settled 
for the time to the satisfaction of all reasonable men." 

Only those who were intimately acquainted with the work done by Mr. Walsh 
in connection with these early trials can form a true conception of his wonderful 
ability for organisation and indefatigable energy in carrying to the utmost limit 
of utility the many suggestions emanating from his own resourceful brain, or 
suggested by his confreres. 

Writing in the Field of April 17th, 1858, he says that "a trial in the 
ordinary way, as practised by gun-makers, was worth a whole cartload of reasoning 
upon a subject where the data are almost always liable to exception from 
depending upon the evidence of the disputant himself." He did not hold a 
very high opinion of gun-makers as a class, and the loss of the thumb and fore- 
finger of his left hand through the bursting of a gun in his early manhood, for 
which accident he failed to obtain any compensation, did not tend to develop 
a kindly feeling towards guns or their makers ; yet, looking back over a period of 
forty or more years, one cannot help but think that neither the gun trade nor 
sportsmen have fully realised how much they really owe to Mr. Walsh. By his 
convincing and absolutely impartial testimony he undoubtedly accelerated the 
use of the breech-loader and convinced a doubting generation of the merits and 
importance of choke-bore guns, and to him also may be attributed the 
standardisation of results obtained by the counting of the pellets on the target. 

The tests made at the 1858 trials were indecisive, and may be looked upon 
merely as a preliminary canter to the more pretentious trials of 1859. 

The target selected on the score of economy, 28 inches x 11 inches, was 
altogether unsuitable for testing the pattern of a gun ; further, only one shot was 
fired from each barrel at the three ranges, 40, 50, and 60 yards, and although the 
same procedure was followed in the 1859 trials, later experience proved that it 
was an entirely unsatisfactory method of testing the gun's performance. Again 
quoting Mr. Walsh : " The great guns stood aloof, having everything to lose and 
nothing to gain by a competition with their provincial brethren, but perhaps 
next time they may see they suffer more in reputation by their absence than they 
could possibly by their being present." 

The records obtained with the highest and lowest gun in Class I. at the 1858 


The Gun and its Development. 

trials are of interest, particularly as prior to that time no gun-maker of renown had 
looked upon these results as of importance ; they are not referred to by Col. 
Hawker, W. Greener, or other early writers on Gunnery, neither did any gun- 
maker habitually test his guns for pattern at a target. 


No. of marks on 

No. of shots 

Total on 


- Kame of. 

Kind of Gun. 


of shot. 

face of target. 

through targets. 

face of 6 

thro' 6 


40 yds. 

50 yds. 

60 yds. 

40 yds. 


60 yds. 

Prince ... 


2f dr. 

















used with 













ri\ .. 

The Field Gun Trial of 1859 was tried at targets made of double bag cap paper, 
90 lbs. to the ream, all circular, 30 inches in diameter, with a centre 1 2 inches 
square, and nailed against a smooth surface of deal boards. This centre was 
composed of 40 thicknesses for the 40 yards, and 20 at 60 yards, the squares, 
which were cut evenly at the edges, weighing 18 oz. and 9 oz. respectively, on the 
average, with a slight variation, which will always occur in brown paper. Powder 
Laurence's No. 2, which was selected because it gave satisfaction the previous year. 
Shot No. 6 (290 pellets per ounce). Charges weighed in every instance. There 
were twenty-nine entries. The following table summarises the results obtained with 
the three best muzzle-loaders and the three best breech-loaders : 




Name of Maker. 

Kind of Gun. 

Charge of 

of Shot. 

at 40 yards. 










2| drains 

i^ oz. 




6 lbs. 1 1 oz. 


Prince & Green 



2| drams 

\\ oz. 





6 Ite. 



2f drams 

\\ oz. 





6 lbs. 8 oz. 




3 drams 

\\ oz. 





7 lbs. 8 oz. 

Prince & Green 


3 drams 

\\ oz. 





7 lbs. 2 oe.. 



3 drams 






7 lbs. 

Joe Manton ... 


2\ drams 

I oz. 





6 lbs. 120Z. 

Public Gun Trials 329 

Remarks. At 60 yards the best muzzle-loading gun in this trial made a pattern 
of sixty with the first and sixty-three with the second barrel ; it penetrated twenty 
sheets with two pellets with the first and twenty sheets with five pellets with the 
second barrel at the same distance. 

The performance of the Manton above recorded was not extraordinary ; the 
barrels were in first-rate condition. 

The great contest was as between nmzzle- and breech-loaders, and it will be 
seen that in each class the old-fashioned gun carried the day, though very closely 
pressed by its rival. The main point deserving notice at this later date is the 
irregular shooting of all the guns tried. The best breech-loader made a pattern of 
144 with one barrel, but only 90 with the other; a difference of the same kind and 
of almost equal degree is observable in the records of the two best muzzle-loaders, 
and the performance of the Manton muzzle-loader was not in any way superior in 
this respect. 

In comparing this record with that of the cylinder guns in the great trial 
of 1875, it must be borne in mind that the shot contained in \\ oz, was about 
370 pellets, against 305 in the \\ oz. used at the later trial ; consequently the 
improvement in shooting in 1875 is greater than apparent upon cursory examination 
of the tables of results. 



The Field Gxm Trial of 1866 took place at the " Lillie Arms," Old Brompton, 
on the 22nd and 23rd of May, 1866. All the shots were made with the foremost 
foot of the shooter 40 yards from the target a circular plate of iron, 30 inches in 
diameter, having a square of paper suspended in tlie middle of its face and close 
to it. This central square was composed of forty thicknesses of double-imperial 
brown paper, 140 lbs. per ream, procured from Messrs. Pettitt, of Frith Street, 
Soho, by whom it was cut and tied up at each corner, the size being 10^ inches 
by 9I inches ^in round numbers, 10 inches square. In counting the pattern the 
hits on the iron were added to those on the paper, and in counting the penetration 
the number of sheets broken by any one shot was scored. The shot used was 
Walker, Parker and Co.'s No. 6, London size, 280 pellets per ounce. Powder 
Curtis and Harvey's No. 3, 5 or 6, at the discretion of the shooter, who was 
allowed any charge he pleased. The eight guns highest on the list used No. 5 
or 6, and the seven lowest [No. 3 a fact telling strongly in favour of coarse 

L * 


The Gun and its Development. 

There were thirty-two guns entered in the chief class that for 12-bores. The 
performances of the three best guns, as well as of the lowest, are given in the table. 







(Six shots from each barrel.) 

(Six shots from each barrel.) 





Weight of 


hi) !! ..; 


"o m 




2 3 4 156 



e 1% 





5 6 

t. " 

rt s t 

% -a 


1 Pape, 



140 146 130 132 135 104 


Right. ..23 27 27 26 31 27 

26-5 I .. 


Left ... 

158 144 47 106 159 126 

123-2 ) "7 ' 

Left ...24 25 20 23 27 27 [ 24'2 ) '^ '* 


with pin car- 

tridge ; 7i lb. 

2 Pape, 



134 94 138 165 no 163 

'.?^ }"3-3 

Right. ..24 23 23 26 22 26 ,24 ) 
Left ...20 32 23 27 20 22 ] 24 ) ^ 


Left ... 

52 156 129 157 73 135 


with pin car- 

tridge ; 

7 lb. I oz. 

3 W.W.Greener, 

his Patent 


114 124 lis no 5^5^ 125 

I24"2) . 

Right. ..26 19 31 18 26 28 

24'4 l,^... 


Left ... 

130 80 127 137 118 122 

119 r^'4 

Left ...23 30 26 27 26 26 

26-2 ) ^5 3 



with pin car- 

tridge ; ^\ lb. 

Average. Highest. Lowest. 

Average. Highest. Lowest 

32 Hast. 


67 87 43 

Right ... 20 32 15 




- 57 78 


Left . 





In the first two guns 3 drms. No. 6, in the third 3 drms. No. 5, and in the last 3J drms. of powder were used. 

Shot ij ounce in all guns. 

Remarks. In comparing these results with later trials, it must be remembered 
that smaller shot was used at this trial, viz., 280 instead of 270 to the oz. ; this will 
make about twelve more pellets to the load used, which would equal an average 
increase of pattern of five shots ; thus the best gun would average about 122 instead 
of i2yi. In class 2, for i6-bores, the best gun made an average pattern of 109-4, 
an average penetration of 22-5 ; an ounce of shot only was used. 

The three lowest scores made by 12-bores were 69-4, 62-1, 75-5. 

At this trial an 8-bore, 36 inches, 14J lbs., double gun was also shot; it made 
the extraordinarily low average pattern of 108-2 with 6 drs. of No. 3 powder and 
\\ oz, of shot. Of the thirty-two 12-bores shot at the trial, 19 failed to score an 
average pattern of 100. These figures prove that very poor shooting was generally 
obtainable, but few makers being able to produce guns which would give even 
a fairly close pattern. Gun- makers can now make cheap guns which surpass in 
shooting qualities the best gun shot at this or any previous trial. Soft shot was 
used at this date, and choke-boring was not known to English gun-makers.- 

Public Gun Trials. 331 

the great gun trial of 1875, 
Choke-bores v. Cylinders. 

This was undoubtedly the greatest, not only of the London gun trials, but of 
every public trial or test of shot-guns in this or any other country. The results 
completely revolutionised gun-making and demonstrated the unmistakable advan- 
tages of a new method of boring gun barrels : a method the author was instrumental 
in producing and bringing into general use. In the spring of 1874 the author made 
his first experiments in choke-boring, and was so far successful in increasing the 
shooting power of the shot-gun that the Editor of the Field, in noticing a new 
breech-mechanism (W. W. Greener's treble wedge-fast gun) submitted for his 
inspection, thought the statement of the author with reference to the shooting 
power of the gun deserving mention. The following excerpt from the Field of 
December 5, 1874, is also of interest as being the first public notice of what a 
choke-bore gun could accomplish : 

"We have not ourselves tested these guns, but Mr. W. W. Greener is now prepared to 
execute orders for 12-bores warranted to average 210 pellets of No. 6 shot in a 30-in. circle, with 
three drams of powder, the weight of the gun being 7J lb. With larger bores and heavier 
charges, he states that an average pattern of 240 will be gained. As we have always found Mr. 
W. W. Greener's statements of what his guns would do borne out by our experience, we are 
fully prepared to accept those now made." 

The statement attracted considerable attention ; the performance was so far 
in advance of any record that neither gun-makers nor sportsmen would credit 
its possibility. In the next issue of the paper the following letter appeared 
from E. O. Partridge, Esq. : 

' ' Your article in last week's Field, on the ' improvement ' of breech-loaders by Mr. Greener, 
of Birmingham, in my estimation scarcely does justice to the gravity of the question. The 
* improvement ' would have been better rendered by the word ' revolution,' for I do not 
hesitate to assert that it is a revolution as complete, and, alas ! as sad to those of us who 
thought we possessed the best guns that science and skill were ever likely to produce, as was 
he change from flint and steel to percussion (which I am old enough to remember), or from 
that again to breech-loaders. It is with the hope of inducing brother sportsmen who are 
thinking of buying new guns to pause and see the results of this change before they do so 
that I now write. 

" My experience in guns and makers has been pretty wide, ranging from old Joe Manton 
(my first love) down to the first makers of the present day. Two months since I thought I 
was the owner of guns second to none for pattern and hard hitting ; the illusion has been 
rudely dispelled, as will be, I guarantee, those of thousands of others who think as I did. A 
few weeks back I received a circular from Mr. Greener, descriptive of the improvements he 
had made, accompanied by a note intimating that he had (I fancy by some new system of 
boring) attained pattern and penetration which would throw the performances of any gun I 
had into the shade. Of this I took no notice, but on going to the dog show I took with me 


The Guw and its Development. 

a gun by one of the most eminent makers of the day, inwardly chuckling with a certainty 
of the result of any trial in its favour. The Greener selected was put into the scales, and 
proved to be a trifle under the weight of my own ylb., both of 12-bore. The range was forty 
yards, the target 30 inches diameter, the test first for pattern. Steadily, shot after shot, the 
Greener beat my gun by never less than 60 pellets, and with a regularity of pattern which 
astounded me. Nor was the trial for penetration less remarkable in its results. The target 
in that case was the ordinary field pad of tough brown paper, thirty-six sheets. The Greener 
in every instance nearly put pellets through the whole thirty-six ; the best performance of 
my gun was twenty-five. Reverting to pattern, I think with the Greener gun, at forty yards, 
it would have been almost impossible for a snipe to escape. I omitted to say we were using 
No. 6 shot, the charge being 3 drs. and i| shot. 

" Whilst I was there, an entire stranger to me came to try a lo-bore he had just bought. 
I stayed to witness it. I did not enquire what charge was used ; I only know that the 30-incb 
target was literally smothered. I think it would have been difficult for even a humming-bird 
to escape. 

" I returned (in one sense) a sadder and poorer man to the extent of two new guns. 

" Edward Otto Partridge. 
" Easton Court, Herefordshire." 

The same issue of the Field also contained the author's first advertisement of 
the choke-bore, and this is now of such historical interest as to warrant reproduction,. 
It read as follows : " W. W. G. is now pre- 
pared to manufacture guns to order, that 
will put on an average of 2 1 o pellets with 
i2-bores weighing under 7^ lbs. with a 
charge of 3 dr. powder, and i J oz. of No. 6 
shot, and over that weight 220 pellets; 
lo-bore guns weighing 9 to 9* lbs., with a 
charge of only 4 dr. powder and li oz. 
No. 6 shot, an average of 240 pellets; closer 
shooting may be obtained if desired, and 
the penetration is also one-third greater. 
By using only 2I dr. of powder, better 
pattern and penetration can be obtained 
than from other guns with 3 dr. of powder, 
and with much less recoil." 

The readers of the Field still refused 
to credit such extraordinary shooting. A 
special commissioner from the office of the Field newspaper visited the author's 
factory, witnessed the shooting of the new guns, and verified the results. 
Even this was deemed insufficient, and many arguments were advanced for, and 

/ !! 'v 



V . . : :, ./ 

\ .. ..7 

\. .- 'V 

Target Illustration used in W. W. Greener's First 
Choke-bore Advertisement. 

Public Gun Trials. 333 

against the new system, probably the most ridiculous being that formulated by 
Mr. Pape, who claimed that owing to the construction of the range on which 
the author's gun was fired, a considerable number of the shots would ricochet 
on to the target, and further, that on account of the lightness of the Chilled 
shot, similar patterns could not be procured on an open range ; and so serious 
did these objections appear to some, that later trials on an unprotected range 
where better patterns were obtained were considered necessary to satisfy the 
doubters, and the results but confirmed how little this man, in spite of his pre- 
tensions, actually knew of the principle of choke-boring. In January of the same 
year a " minute trial " of the author's gun was made by " Peverill " of BeWs Life. 
This painstaking and skilful writer gave longer time to his trial than that given 
by the Field representatives to both their preliminary trials at the author's range, 
and the results, although obtained in a different way, fully confirmed the report 
of the Field commissioner in fact, they were really more favourable to the author's 
guns than either of the preliminary trials conducted by the Field newspaper. 

The Editor of the Field himself, accompanied by Mr. Rigby then a rival 
gun-maker next visited the author's open-air testing ground, and satisfied them- 
selves that the shooting obtainable was equal to that claimed. As a matter of 
fact, the performance was better; the patterns averaged 220, with high penetration 
and great regularity. Other gun-makers, amongst whom may be mentioned 
Scott and Dougall, having claimed to produce equal results, the Editor of the 
Field also decided to give their guns a private trial, and commenting upon the 
first, he says : " We cordially congratulate both Mr. Greener and Messrs. Scott 
on the result of their labours, and whether or not they can fairly claim any 
improvements upon the American system they, and especially Mr. Greener, are 
entitled to the thanks of English sportsmen for bringing it prominently forward." 
Some went still further and claimed to possess a knowledge of the system of 
boring the author used ; some deemed it an unsatisfactory method of boring, others 
declared for choke-boring, so, after a lengthy discussion, it was determined by the 
proprietors of the Field to carry out such tests as would settle the matter in dispute 
and prove which maker could produce the strongest and closest-shooting gun. 

As a further inducement a Cup, value forty guineas, was offered for the best 
shooting i2-bore gun bored on any system, as the secret of the choke was claimed 
by several ; and a Cup of smaller value for the best shooting gun bored on any 
system other than the choke. 

At the previous gun trials, as well as at all the demonstrations the author made 
before the Editor of the Field and others, the load of shot used was i^ oz. 

334 The Gun and its Development. 

This load the author knew to be the one best suited to the 12 -bore choked gun. 
Some correspondents of the Field suggested that the load should be restricted to 
\\ oz. by weight, and this load was decided upon as one of a sporting character; 
it did not bring out the best qualities of the choke, as the author pointed out at the 
time, but he was compelled to agree to the conditions imposed. 

The author fortunately discovered that special boring was requisite in order to 
obtain the best results with this reduced charge, and although the time at his 
disposal was short, he immediately set to work on new guns for the trials, and his 
success was, in a great measure, due to his foresight in thus making special guns for 
this charge. 

Experience has confirmed his first opinion and shows that the addition of 34. 
pellets to the standard load of ij oz. No. 6 shot, 270 to the ounce, will generally 
give an increase of from 20 to 30 pellets in the 30-inch circle at 40 yards. 

The gun-makers both of London and the provinces freely entered into the 
contest. The result demonstrated the superiority of the author's method of boring, 
the choke-bore guns he entered winning every class ; and the advantages of the new 
system of boring were at once apparent. The details of the shooting will be found 
in the following tables and summaries. 

Classification. The guns were divided into four classes. 

Class I. For 8- and lo-bores of any weight or any kind of boring, and used with any charge. 
Class 2. For guns of any kind not exceeding 12-bore or over 71 lbs. weight. Class 3. For 
i2-gauges and smaller of English (cylinder) boring, and not over yi lbs. weight. Class 4. For 
2o-bores and under of any kind of boring. No gun over 6 lbs. weight. The charge of shot for 
i2-bores was ij oz. No. 6 ; for 20-bores | to i oz. of No. 6. 

Conditions. " The entries to be confined to gun-makers, and in each class no gun-maker to 
enter more than three guns. The Editor of the Field to be the manager, and his decision on all 
points to be final, subject only to the committee, who are to be chosen by the proprietors of the 
Field. No entrance-fee to be charged for the guns. 

" The competition to be at the ground of the All England Croquet Club, near the Wimbledon 
Station, commencing at ten o'clock on Monday, April 26, and continuing daily from the same 
hour till completed. The guns to be shot in the order of their entry, from the usual gun-maker's 
adjustable rest, by the competitor or his representative. 

" The guns in each class to be tried twice the first round at 40 yards, with a Pettitt pad of 
45 sheets in the centre of a 30-in. circle, six shots each barrel. The greatest number of pellets 
within the circle to be added to six times the number of sheets penetrated by three pellets, in 
order to give the figure of merit ; the counting to be done in the presence of the competitors at 
the conclusion of each set of 12 shots. If this round in any one class is completed in one day, 
then the guns giving the six highest figures to be selected for the second round ; but if not, then 
a proportionate number, making up together the required six, to be taken from each day's score^ 

" For the second round, these six guns are to be shot at a target 4 ft. square, having a 
Pettitt pad in the centre for penetration, and a selected group included in a 30-in. circle, to be 
drawn from a centre fixed on by the competitor, or his representative, for pattern. First time, 

Public Gun Trials. 


6 shots from each barrel, at 40 yards ; second time, ditto, ditto, at 60 yards. The figure of 
merit to be computed the same way, and the gun making the highest score from both distances 
combined to be adjudged the winner of the cup or prize. 

" The distances to be measured from the butt of the gun. 

" The shot to be either Lane and Nesham's or the Newcastle Chilled Shot, No. 6, about 270 
pellets per oz. ; each charge to be weighed." 

' Note There were 33 competitors, who entered 114 guns ; the greatest number ever entered 
at a public gun trial. 

RESULTS. Class I. Large Bores, any boring. 

Only nine guns competed, four makers withdrawing their weapons. The first 
gun wais the W. W. Greener 8-bore, with an average pattern of 321, with 2\ oz. 
No. 6 chilled shot. The author was also first and second 
with two lo-bores, guns which obtained a higher figure of 
merit than two of the 8-bores shot against them. One 
8-bore by a London gun-maker of high reputation made an 
average pattern of 163 -9 only, which was far behind the 
author's 12-bore gun. In the second round, with a selected 
group, the W. W. Greener 8-bore made an average pattern 
of 358*9, and the Greener lo-bore 241 2, with the same 
charge as used in the first round, i^ oz. of No. 6. 


The manager of the trial (J. H. Walsh) stated, con- 
cerning the performance of the W. W. Greener 8-bore 

" With regard to the performances of the guns in Class i, Mr. 
Greener's 8-bore certainly did wonders at 40 yards, both in pattern Silver Cup presented by the 
and penetration ; but beyond this distance the enormous charge of Proprietors of \h& Field, 
shot (2.\ oz.) did not seem to be of much service, and it evidently Greener, 
requires a larger size than No. 6 to do justice to these ' cannons,' 

which, of course, are only to be treated as duck guns. The ' choke ' is with them an 
immense advantage, and will no doubt be largely used for the above purpose." 

Results. Class 2. Choke-bores, 12-gauge. 

In this class there were sixty-eight guns and thirty-three competitors. The first 
prize (a Silver Cup, valued 40 guineas) was taken by W. W. Greener, the gun 
making an average pattern of 214 and a penetration of 206*5. The second gun, 
by a provincial maker, made an average pattern of i82"2, and penetration of 2oo*5. 
The two worst choke-bores in this class made average patterns of 109 '6 and 93, 


The Gun and its Development. 

The remaining sixty-four 

which were much worse than many of the cyHnders 
guns averaged every pattern between these extremes. 

Extract from the "Field" Report. 

Of the guns entered for the principal prize we give the averages made by the first thirty. 
These averages represent the mean results of twelve rounds, six from each barrel, fired for 
pattern and penetration. The penetration is represented by the average number of sheets 
pierced by three pellets being multiplied by six, so that if thirty sheets were pierced the 
number registered would be i8o. "When in the following table the letter p is put after 
the number of the powder it indicates that it was made by Pigou, in all other cases the 
powder was made by Curtis & Harvey. In two instances the weight and length were not 






(30 in.) 

( X by 6) 

of Merit. 

lb. oz. 



7 4 


3I drs. No. 4 p 


. 206 



7 4 


3i ,. No. 6 

182 . 

. 200 



7 3 


3 .. No. 6 

179 . 

. 197 



7 I 


3i .. No. 4 

175 . 

. 196 



7 4 


3i .. No. 4 

176 . 

. 188 





3i .. No. 6 

172 . 

. 189 



6 15 


3 .. No. 6 


. 186 



7 3 


3i M No. 6 

170 . 

. 188 



6 13 


3^ No. 4 P 

i6i . 

. 194 





3 No. 6 

163 . 

. 191 



6 13 


3 ,, No. 4 p 

182 . 

. 170 



7 2 


3 .. No. 6 

166 . 

. 186 



6 loi 


3 No. 6 

174 . 

. 177 



7 3" 


3 No. 6 

166 . 

. 183 



7 3 


3 .. No. 5 

166 . 

. 183 



3i ,. No. 6 

185 . 

. 164 



7 2 


3 No. 6 

169 . 

. 178 





3i No. 5 


. 192 





3 No. 6 

172 . 




7 3 


3 ,, No. 4 p 

171 . 




7 2 


3 No. 6 

158 . 

. 185 



7 4 


3 .. No. 5 

158 . 

. 185 



7 3 


3 ,, No. 4 p 

166 . 




7 4 


3 .. No. 4 


. 186 



7 3 


3 ,. No. 6 

168 . 

. 168 



7 2 


3 M No. 5 

146 . 

. 190 



7 4 


3 .. No. 6 


. 172 



3i No, 6 

168 . 

. 161 



7 3 


3 No. 6 


. 185 



6 14 


3 M No. 6 

149 . 

. 178 


Public Gun Trials. 337 

Class II. Round 2. (Same charges as before, with selected group of 30 in. circle at 

both distances,) 
40 Yards. 60 Yards. 

Figure of Figure of Final 

Pattern. Penet. Merit. Pattern 

Greener 214 ... 188 ... 402 92 

Davison 176 ... 191 ... 367 108 

Pape 173 ... 194 367 91 

Baker 170 ... 192 ... 362 85 

Baker 177 ... 190 ... 367 76 

Davison 174 ... 171 ... 345 84 

Penet. Merit. average. 

100 ... 192 = 297 

97 .. 205 = 286 

93 ... 184 = 275 

87 ... 172 = 267 

85 ... 161 = 264 

89 ... 173 = 259 

Accordingly, Mr. Greener became the winner of the forty-guinea Silver Cup. 


This was extraordinary shooting ; nothing equal to it having been attained in 
the gun trials of New York, 1873, or Chicago, 1874; the best 12-bore at the 
New York trials made an average pattern of i5o'5 only, with paper shells. At 
the Chicago trials the highest average pattern with a 12-bore was 166 "5. It is 
impossible to draw comparisons in penetration, as at the American trials a different 
system of scoring was adopted. There is, however, no reliable evidence to show 
that previous to 1874 the Americans were able to bore guns to shoot as close 
as the best of those shot at the 1875 trials, and it is the author's opinion that 
they had not worked out the choke-bore system to its utmost capability ; then this 
opinion is supported by the fact that at the Chicago trial of 1879 the best 12-bore 
choke registered an average pattern 170 pellets only, with 3 drs. and \\ oz., the 
ounce containing about twenty pellets more than there are in the English No. 6, 
Comparing the results with those of the earlier English trials the advance is remark- 
able, especially when the difference in the shot is considered ; for in this trial, in 
this and the next class, the load contained frOm 40 to 50 pellets less than that used 
in 1866 and about 60 pellets less than at the trials of 1859. 

RESULTS. Class 3. For Guns of English Boring or Cylinders. 

This was won by a slightly modified choke-bore, the muzzle being contracted 
nearly 5,oooths of an inch. This gun made an average pattern of 148*5 and 
penetration of 165. The second gun, a true cylinder, made an average pattern of 
129 only, and penetration of i68"5. The lowest average pattern was 82. 


In comparing the results with the trial of 1866, a little improvement in the 
penetration is noticeable, but the average patterns were hardly equal to those 
obtained in 1866 ; this is accounted for by the difference in the shot, as already 

338 The Gun and its Development. 

explained ; also the cartridges were loaded by weight instead of by measure. 
Chilled shot, which was first brought prominently before the public at this trial, was 
used in all the choke-bores, whose performances were among the best. 

RESULTS. Class 4. Small gauges, any boring. 

Seven guns only competed in this class, and all were 20-gauge and choked. These 
little guns beat all the 1 2-bore cylinders at 40 yards, both in pattern and penetration. 

At the longer range of 60 yards the reduced charges told against these light 
guns, and they were well beaten by the cylinder twelves, both for pattern and 
penetration, The author's 20-bore, weighing only 5I lbs., came out the winner by 
several points. A charge of 2^^ drs, and i oz. of No. 6 chilled shot was used. The 
average pattern at 40 yards was i45"3, penetration 141 ; at 60 yards average 
pattern 50*1, penetration 54. The second gun made an average pattern at 40 
yards of 135 '5, penetration 129 ; the lowest average pattern recorded at this distance 
was 71. In all except the winning gun a charge from 2^ to 2| drs. was used, and 
some of the guns were as heavy as 6 lbs. 


The only i6-bore shot at this trial was in Class 2. It made an average 
pattern of i29'3 and penetration of i66"5 at 40 yards (not shot at sixty yards). 
It weighed 6 lbs. 4 oz., and was shot with 2| drs. and i^ oz. chilled shot. 


The victory of choke-bore guns was so complete, and the performances so 
thoroughly in advance of everything ever before attempted, that the only chance left 
the opponents of the author's method of boring was to raise the contention that the 
choke would not last ; that the barrel would in a short time revert to the shape of a 
bad cylinder, and the shooting not only fall off but become worse than that of an 
ordinary gun. Whether or not these views were entertained generally it would be 
hard to decide, but at the close of the great gun trial it was determined by the 
Field Committee to institute a " Wear-and-Tear Trial, " in order to prove whether 
or not the contention was baseless. 

Conditions. Three guns to be chosen to go through, a series of firing, for six 
weeks, one gun to be supplied by W. W. Greener, the winner of the preceding 
trials, and two guns by other competitors in the trial. Two hundred shots to be fired 
into a pit, gun to be wiped out, and 200 more shots fired the next morning ; the 
gun again to be wiped out, 12 rounds fired at a target after each 200 shots. Gun 
to be then cleaned and laid aside until the following week. The firing to be 
repeated each week until at least 2,500 shots should have been fired by each gun. 

Public Gun Trials. 


The guns to be kept under lock and key. The pit shots to be made at the rate of 
60 shots per hour. 


The W. W. Greener gun came out first in both pattern and penetration, the 
average of 244 rounds being pattern, 185, penetration, i5i'5, figure of merit, 
336-5 ; the second competitor averaged a pattern, 182 "3, penetration, 135, figure of 
merit, 318. The W. W. Greener gun shot in this trial was not the gun that won 
the 40-guinea cup in the previous trial ; the paper 
pads used were made of considerably thicker paper 
than those used in the former trial, hence a lower 
figure of merit was obtained. The result of the trial 
proved highly satisfactory to the choke-bores, it being 
clearly demonstrated that there was no falling-ofif what- 
ever in the quality of the shooting. 

A Wear-and-Tear Trial in which upwards of 80,000 
rounds were fired without deterioration, and others ex- 
tending over a much longer period of time, will be 
referred to later. 


Completely and ignominiously beaten in 1875, ^^ 
opponents of the choke, unable to prove the cylinder 
gun its equal at the target, and equally powerless to 
substantiate their contention that the choke wore out, 
declared it unfit for use at game, and inferior to the 
cylinder as a trap gun. It was proposed to test the 
two systems by trials at pigeons ; two teams firing under the usual conditions. 

The 1876 Trial was shot off at the Gun Club, Notting Hill, on July 21, 1876. 
The cylinder-bores scored 59 at 27 yards rise, and 47 at 33 yards rise; the choke- 
bores scored 57 at 27 yards and 40 at 33 yards. In this match concentrators were 
used in the cylindrical barrels ; this made them about equal to the modified chokes. 
Besides this, the majority of the best shots used cylinders, being as 7 to 4 ; had 
the sides been equal it is probable that the choke-bores would have been victorious. 
The following year a return match was made, the sides were more equal, and con- 
centrators were excluded. There were nine guns on each side, at five birds each 
at 30 yards, and five each at 40 yards, for a sweepstake and a silver cup presented 
by Mr. J. Purdey. 

The Fifty Guinea Cup presented 
by Mr. J Purdey. 

34 The Gun and its Development. 

The choke-bores won the first day by 4 birds. The best score was made by 
Mr. H. C. Pennell, who killed 5 birds at 30 and 3 birds at 40 yards. " It was 
noticed that Mr. Pennell with his Greener gun brought his birds down in splendid 
style at from 60 to 70 yards distance ; he also used but 3^ drs. powder, whilst 3^ drs. 
were used by some of the other competitors." Only one gun used in this match 
was made by the author ; that was in the hands of the winner of the cup, Mr. 
Pennell. There were fourteen guns by the first London makers and three by pro- 
vincial makers. The next day a sweepstake was shot for, the same sides competing. 
The choke-bores were first by 14 birds. This trial fully proved that choke-bores 
were the best weapons for this shooting, and they have since been generally used 
at all the gun clubs. 

THE "field" trial OF EXPLOSIVES, 1878. 

The object of this trial was to compare the relative merits of the black and 
Schultze powders, and incidentally to ascertain if the Schultze powder could be 
relied upon for sporting purposes. The trial was of the most exhaustive nature, 
over 2,000 rounds being recorded. There were six chokes (of which three were 
by W. W. Greener), and six cylinders (one by W. W. Greener). The result of the 
trial showed that the most uniform and regular patterns could be obtained from the 
black powder, whereas the Schultze had the advantage of penetration. This is the 
first trial in which the recoil was registered since 1859. The guns were fired from 
a machine rest designed by the Editor of the the Field ; and by means of a Salter's 
spring balance the recoil of each shot was accurately recorded. The penetration 
was obtained from paper pads (40 sheets), <^\ in. by io| in., with a black square of 
4 inches marked on its centre. The figure of merit was made up as follows : 

Average penetration of three shots, multiplied by six, as in 

previous trials, say .. ... ... ... ... 180 

Deduct difference between lowest pattern made 
and average pattern, say 

Ditto average recoil in pounds above 50 

Ditto between highest and lowest recoil 


Choke-hons with Black Powder. 
Six guns, 450 shots, mean average pattern 

,, ,, ,, penetration ... 

,, difference of pattern 
,, ,, ,, recoil above 50 

,, differences recoil 
, , , , figure of merit ... 


355 [ 


35 ) 




71 "59 





Public Gun Trials. 341 

Choke-bores with the Schultze Wood Powder. 

Six guns, 450 shots, mean average pattern 18825 

,, ,, penetration i59'o8 

,, difference of pattern ... ... 107*66 

average recoil above 50 ... ... 3640 

average difference in recoil 7'25 

average figure of merit 19 73 

The W. W. Greener three choke-bores came out first, second, and third in the trial. The 
average of mean three with the black powder was 

Mean average pattern ... 19260 

Mean average penetration ... ... .. ... ... 146*22 

Mean average merit 4886 

And with the Schultze wood powder- 
Mean average pattern ... ... ... ... ... 19190 

Mean average penetration ... ... ... ... .., 160-45 

Mean average figure of merit ... ... ... ... 4190 

The summary of this trial shows that there was very little difference in the 
merits of the three black powders tested namely, that of the well-known makers^ 
Messrs. Curtis and Harvey, Messrs. Hall, and Messrs. Pigou, Wilks and Laurence 
the total variation not being beyond the range of chance, whilst the individual 
scores were still more up and down. The Schultze powder, however, came out 
much better than was anticipated, the penetration being superior to the black, and 
very good patterns were also made with it ; but the difference between the lowest 
shot and average pattern was so great as to lower its figure of merit below those 
obtained by the black powder. As a natural result of this trial, the sporting public 
placed confidence in the Schultze powder, and many who had previously been 
afraid of using it adopted it readily. 

The highest individual score was made with the black powder fired from a full 
choke-bore gun by W. W. Greener. It made the most wonderful shooting on 
record, the average pattern of twenty-five shots being 220*8 ; average penetration, 
154*32; difference in pattern, 24*08 only; average recoil above 50 lbs., 36*88; 
difference in recoil, 5*00 ; figure of merit, 88*36, being the highest ever obtained 
under the same conditions. The greatest difference in pattern occurred in shooting 
black powder from the gun of a provincial maker, the patterns varying from 42 to 
216. The figure of merit obtained by this gun was 43*06 minus, being 131*42 
points below the winning gun. This, however, was not quite the lowest figure 
obtained by this maker. 

Some of the cylinder guns fired in this trial showed a decided improvement 
upon the scores made by cylinders at the 1875 trial, the highest average pattern 

342 The Gun and its Development. 

being 139*40, and the average penetration of this gun was 13776. In recoil the 
Schultze powder showed a decided advantage, the average recoil of black powder in 
the chokes being 87*29, in the cylinders 87*23 ; the average of the Schultze being, 
in the chokes 86*40, and in the cylinders 83*29 : but there is more variation in 
recoil with the Schultze than with the black, the average difference with the Schultze 
powder being 7*25 against 5*3 with the black, in the chokes. And in cylinders 
the difference was even more marked. 

Many sportsmen hold the opinion that the recoil of choke-bores is very much 
greater than that of the cylinder bores. This trial proves, however, that there is 
only a very slight difference between them viz., *o9 of a lb., taking the average of 
900 shots with the black powder. 


It having been suggested by an old subscriber of the Field to take the pattern 
of each gun on a 4-inch square centre, each pad was marked with a 4-inch square 
bull's-eye. The author's gun scored in this centre 

At 40 yards, with black powder: Left barrel, 9, 9, 10, 12, 13, 9, 9, 11, 7, 8, 
10, 13, 16; Right barrel, 9, 21, 8, 10, 7, 7, 11, 7, 5, 7, 12, 7. Average 10 pellets. 

At 50 yards the same gun averaged, with No. 6 shot : Left barrel, 5 ; right 
barrel, 5*40. With No. 5 shot the averages were: Left, 3*75 ; right, 3*76. 

At 60 yards it obtained an average of 2*32 with the left and 2*83 with the 
right 3^ drams and i^^ oz. of No. 6 shot. With No. 5 shot and 3^ drams 
powder, the averages were: Left, 2*32 ; right, 2*32. 

The best cylinder averaged 5*5 at 40 yards. It failed on one occasion, with 
Schultze powder, to throw even a single pellet into a 4-inch centre, and in several 
cases only one shot; at 50 yards it averaged 2*18. As the cylinder failed in 
several instances with this centre at 50 yards, it was considered advisable to try 
W. W. Greener's choke only at 60 yards, it being clear that the cylinders were 
useless at that distance. From these figures it is evident that at 60 yards, even 
with a choke, a 4-inch square may occasionally escape ; whilst with a cylinder such 
an escape is by no means uncommon, even at 40 yards, and at 50 it is common 
enough, and at 60 the rule rather than the exception. 

The choke-bore gun at 50 yards made an average pattern in a 30-inch circle of 
153, with 3^ drams of No, 4 powder and i^ oz. No. 6 shot. 

At 60 yards, with 3^ drams and i\ oz. No. 5 shot, an average pattern of 88 ; 
with 45 grains of Schultze gunpowder and i\ oz. of No. 6 shot, an average pattern 
of no was obtained. 

Public Gun Trials. 



The object of these trials was to ascertain the relative merits of guns of different 
calibres the 12-, 16-, and 20-bores as game guns. The conditions were some- 
what onerous, and a great point was that the pattern of a gun was not counted as 
a factor in computing the figure of merit, save as it departed from the pattern which 
had been previously declared as its average. 

There were 25 rounds fired from each gun at 40 yards, and the two best guns in 
each day's performance were shot at 60 yards. The average pattern of each gun 
had to be declared before it was shot, and the figure of merit was made up as 
follows : The penetration computed according to the force per pellet indicated on 
the force-gauge. The pattern computed according to the average deviation of the 
twenty-five patterns from the declared pattern, which average deviation is to be 
deducted from the penetration. At 60 yards the deviation to be computed from 
the average pattern, the average recoil above 80 lbs. to be deducted, and also the 
diff'erence in recoil. 

The final figure of merit to be computed from the totals of the two figures 
made respectively at 40 and 60 yards. 

There were twelve entries in each class. The guns were fired from a machine- 
rest designed by the Editor of the Field, of which an illustration is given in the 
chapter on "Testing Instruments;" and the penetration was registered by a force- 
gauge also invented by the Editor of the Field, and this is described and illustrated 
in the same chapter. How far the ostensible object of the trial was secured by the 
results obtained the following summary of the report will prove : 




The best gun made 

Average force per pellet... 

(Average pattern, 204 "20) 

Averageof the deviation of pattern from declared pattern 

Average recoil above 80 lbs. ... ... ... 

Difference between highest and lowest recoils 

Figure of merit ... 
Final figure of merit 

40 yards. 

60 yards. 







4 "00 




61 -60 



The Gun and its Development. 

The second best i2-bore gun made 
Average force per pellet ... 
(Average pattern, 209-60) 

Average of the deviation of pattern from declared pattern 
Average recoil above 80 lbs. 
Difference between highest and lowest recoils 

Figure of merit ... 
Final figure of merit 

ip yards. 

26-64 I 

31-641 67-28 

60 yards. 





i7i"44 i 
. 231-24. 





The best gun made 

Average force per pellet ... 

(Average pattern, 170-36) 

Average of the deviation of pattern from declared pattern 

Average recoil above 80 lbs. 

Difference between highest and lowest recoils 

Figure of merit ... 
Final figure of merit 

ip yards. 





60 yards. 

(80 -80) 





1 1 1 -24 



The second best gun made 
Average force per pellet .. 
(Average pattern, i66-i6' 

Average of the deviation of pattern from declared pattern 
Average recoil above 80 lbs. 
Difference between highest and lowest recoils 

Figure of merit .. 
Final figure of merit 

40 yards. 






171-12 i 
.. 227-44 

60 yards. 



22-84 \ 40-56 



The best 20-bore made 

Average force per pellet 

(Average pattern, 150-72) 

Average of the deviation of pattern from declared pattern 

Average recoil above 80 lbs. 

Difference between highest and lowest recoils 

^0 yards. 

14-84 1 

15-32 \ 37-16 
7-00 J 

60 yaras 



14-24^ 31-56 
8- 00 J 

Figure of merit ... 



Final figure of merit 


Public Gun Trials. 


The second best gun made 
Average force per pellet 
(Average pattern, 152*20) 

Average of the deviation of pattern from declared pattern 
Average recoil above 80 lbs. 
Difference between highest and lowest recoils 

Figure of merit ... 
Final figure of merit 

^o yards. 





1 73 '04 

60 yards. 









This trial, although carried out with an elaboration of detail, and, if possible, 
with greater care than any of the preceding, failed to be of actual service. 
In the first place, the figure of merit was made up in a manner that gave value to 
what the gun-maker knew his gun would do ; if the pattern was stated too high, the 
figure of merit was reduced. Again, pattern did not enter directly into the 
computation of the figure of merit ] regularity of pattern did, and this last was its 
best feature. The method of estimating the force per pellet, instead of taking the 
exact penetration, was not wholly satisfactory ; it certainly gave a fictitious value to 
small-bore guns, their figure of merit being out of all proportion to the actual value 
of the guns as weapons a conclusion sportsmen have corroborated by relegating 
the small-bores to a lower place even than they occupied prior to the trial. Another 
result of the mode of computing the figure of merit was the sending of low shooting 
guns to the trial. The author had at the time several guns which shot closer and 
stronger than those he entered, but by careful experiment he ascertained that, with 
such conditions, guns having other qualities would come out ahead of the better 
performers ; therefore he entered those which he thought would win, and the result 
first fully justified this choice. 



The trial commenced Oct. 20, and continued for five days ; in many instances 
the conditions were widely different from the great London Field Trials, and the 
conclusions arrived at were also different. In the first place, all the guns but one, 
viz. 10-, 1 2-, 16-, and 20-gauge breech-loaders, were supplied by the same maker; in 
addition one 6-gauge muzzle-loader was lent for the occasion, for the purpose of 
comparison. The shot used was Tatham's No. 7 (291 pellets to the ounce). The 
charges, both of powder and shot, were measured, not weighed. A variety of 
charges were also used in the same guns. The method of testing the penetration 


The Gun and its Development. 

was also different ; instead of paper pads of forty sheets tied at each corner, the 
following contrivance was used : A rack slotted at intervals of f of an inch ; in the 
said slots were placed sheets of straw-board of uniform texture and thickness ; at 
each discharge the number of sheets perforated by any one 'pellet was noted, and 
this constituted the record of force for that particular shot. The patterns counted 
in a 30-inch circle. 

The following tables record the performances with No. 7 shot : 

Distance, 40 yards ; 6 shots from each barrel. 


No 7 Shot, 2 drs. i oz., 20-gauge 

2 J drs. I oz. 

2I drs. I oz. 

No.7C*shot, 4drs. i^oz., lo-gauge 

4^ drs. \\ oz. 

5 drs. \\ oz. 

No. 7 Shot, 3 drs. i| oz., 12-gauge 

3^ drs. i| oz 

4 drs. i| oz. 

2,\ drs. I oz. No. 7 Shot, i6-gauge 

3 drs. I oz. 

3 J drs. I oz. 






















81 1 






84 i 

The 20-gauge gun with 2^ drams and i oz. (Tatham Bros.' No. 3 shot), 106 pellets to the oz. 
at 40 yards, made a pattern of 42 right, 48 left ; penetration, right, 27J ; left, 26|. 

The i6-gauge gun with 3 drams and i oz. (No. 3 shot), pattern of 56 right, 59 left; pene- 
tration, right, 29; left, 28^. 

The 12-gauge, 3J drams and i\ oz., 57 right, 85 left; penetration, right, 28^, left, 27^. 

The lo-gauge, 4 drams and i^ oz., 68 right, 73 left; penetration, right, 3o| ; left, 31. 

The 6-gauge muzzle-loader, 5 drams and if oz. (B shot), made a pattern of 93; penetra- 
tion, 40^. 

60 Yards Test. 

The 20-gauge gun, 2\ drams and i oz. (No. 3 shot), pattern, 16 right, 20 left, at 60 yards ; 
penetration, right, 18 ; left, 20. 

The i6-gauge gun, 3 drams and \\ oz. (No. 3 shot), pattern, 25 right, 28 left, at 60 yards; 
penetration, right, 21, left, 2oi. 

The 12-gauge gun, 3^ drams and \\ oz. (No. 3 shot), pattern, 28 right, 29 left, at 60 yards ; 
penetration, right, 17I ; left, 20:^. 

The lo-gauge gun, 4^ drams and \\ oz. (No. 3 shot), pattern, 30 right, 28 left, at 60 yards ; 
penetration, right, 19^ ; left, 19^. 

The 6-gauge muzzle-loader (No. 3 shot), 6 drams and if oz., pattern, 69, at 60 yards; pene- 
tration, 22 5-6. 

Public Gun Trials. 347 

80 Yards Test. 
The performances of the small-gauge guns are not worth recording at this long range. 
The lo-gauge gun with 4^^ drams and if oz. (No. 3 shot), pattern, 13 right, 20 left ; pene- 
tration, right, io|^ ; left, iii. 

The 6-gauge muzzle-loader, 6 drams and if oz. (No. 3 shot), pattern, 47 ; penetration, 14 5-6, 

100 Yards Test. 
The 6-gauge muzzle-loader, 5 drams and if oz. (No. 3), pattern, 13; penetration, 8^. 


It will be noticed that the large sizes of shot gave very superior penetration 
to the smaller sizes. 

The 6-gauge single muzzle-loader shot at this trial made an average pattern of 
(six shots) 227 pellets with a charge of 7 drams of powder and i J oz. of No. 7 shot, 
containing about 440 in the charge. This is considered by the owner and others to 
be a wonderfully close shooter, but as compared with the best lo-bores in the 
London Gun Trial of 1875 it is far inferior. W. W. Greener's winning lo-bore 
guns in that trial gave an average of 241-2 with a charge of \\ oz. of No. 6 
containing 405 pellets. The author has since exceeded this last pattern with only 
i^ oz. of shot; and again, with a 12-bore pigeon gun and a charge of i^ oz. of 
No. 6 shot, has succeeded in making the extraordinary pattern of 264"95. 

The foregoing tables show that the patterns made by the 10-, 12-, 16-, and 
20-gauges were not so uniform, nor were they so high, as those recorded at the 
London Gun Trials. With regard to the penetration, the method adopted for its 
registration is an excellent one, for whenever the charge of powder is increased, a 
corresponding increase is found in the record of the penetration. It also clearly 
demonstrates the great superiority of large shot over small shot for penetration. 

During the trial several pigeons were shot at distance 40 yards with a gun of 
lo-gauge, for which the cartridges were loaded respectively with Nos. 7, 8, and 9 
shot, as in the tests of those sizes at the target. On dissection of the pigeons after 
being killed, it was found that, although No. 8 shot striking in the body gave suffi- 
cient penetration to kill. No. 7 was the smallest size that could be driven through 
the bird when the side with wings down was presented, and from these results it was 
agreed that any force strong enough to perforate from twelve to fourteen sheets of 
the pasteboard used in this test was sufficient to kill such game as pigeons or ducks 
when struck fairly. It is also apparent that full chokes are absolutely necessary to 
kill game at 70 or 80 yards, and that the lo-bores are capable of shooting large- 
sized shot much closer, and with far greater effect, than the smaller bores, and in the 
8-bore the capabilities may be still further developed, as larger charges may be used 
and a denser pattern and larger killing circle obtained. 

348' The Gun and its Development. 

notes on gun trials. 

The ^^ Field" Trials. The methods adopted by Mr. Walsh were not always the 
best that could have been devised for the purpose he had in view, which was to 
determine the shooting qualities of guns and explosives. For instance, the 1 2-bore 
choke requires, to show the utmost of which it is capable, a load of ij ounce by 
weight of No. 6 shot. It was with this load that the author showed the remarkable 
shooting which led to the trial of 1875, ^^^ at the trial itself his guns and chokes 
generally were handicapped by the load allowed being limited to i^ ounce. In like 
manner, at the 1879 trial 12-bores were handicapped in relation to small bores by 
the same conditions, the load for which the gauge is best suited not being allowed. 

Nor was the apparatus always perfect. Of the force-gauge many complaints 
were made. Its action favoured the gun that strung the pellets, i.e. sent them up 
one after the other, instead of as nearly simultaneously as the gun can be made to 
send them. Perhaps the worst feature was the use of the machine rest in the 1879 
trial and the shooting counted upon a fixed central target. This is not the way in 
which to arrive at a correct estimate of a gun's shooting ; but the selected circle, 
that is, from a centre obviously in the middle of' the pattern, should be taken. It is 
not by any means difficult to make a gun shoot straight ; it is not easy to ensure 
that the shooter shall invariably hit the mark, and with no machine rest the author 
has yet seen is it possible to obtain unvarying accuracy with guns of different bores. 

Before the production of the choke-bore the accuracy of the shot-gun was not 
questioned; at 40 yards the pattern of the cylinder is so wide that the true centre is 
not easily found in a small target, and at short ranges the occasional deflection is so 
slight as to be rarely noticed. Many of the old muzzle-loaders shot out that is, the 
right barrel to the right and the left to the left although the late W. Greener 
in his books gave precise directions for so placing the barrels as to avoid this fault. 
When the breech-loader came into use, heavier breech-ends were required and the 
two barrels were set wider apart at the breech, so that the shots from either would 
strike the centre at 40 yards. 

In the matter of machine rests, it may be added that, in addition to the 
criticism (page 322) passed upon Mr. Walsh's " Field TnsiX" rest, no one rest, or no one 
adjustment, will do for varying loads, or for guns of different bores. As the recoil 
recorded must therefore in each instance be reached from a different base, 
absolutely correct comparisons cannot be made. Probably no machine can 
indicate the variations in recoil in such manner as to be translated into " appreci- 
able effect of recoil." A heavy recoil as shown on a machine may be scarcely felt 

Public Gun Trials. 349 

when the gun is fired from the shoulder; and, as demonstrated by more recent 
experiments, the recoil of a light gun when sufficient to injure the shooter was well 
within the usual maximum limit when tested on the machine. 

The great achievement of the trials contested at London since 1875 ^^s the 
demonstration of the powers and qualities of the choke-bore. There can be no 
doubt that much prejudice against them existed. Some bias may still Unger ; but 
in every trial, and subjected to every test conceivable, the choke-bore invariably 
came out ahead of all older fashioned systems of gun-making ; with large shot or 
small, heavy loads or light loads, the chokes proved the best of all. The system of 
boring the author introduced in the year 1874 a system which was all-successful 
and quite revolutionised the principle of gun-making has never been surpassed, 
probably has not been equalled, and still maintains its position and has substan- 
tiated every claim the author made for it. 

The Winning Guns. At most of these gun trials, more particularly at and since 
the great trials of 1875, ^^ author's guns were particularly successful, beating all 
comers in the chief classes ; yet the guns with which he competed were not invariably 
exceptionally good. Many that he has since made would give much better results 
than those recorded by his winning guns ; in short, there should be no difficulty in 
producing guns which shoot quite as close and strong under similar conditions. 

Tricks at Gu?i Trials. Needless to say that, under the management of the late 
Mr. J. H. Walsh, every care was taken to guard against trickery and an honest 
attempt made to place every gun according to its merits. The decisions were not 
seriously questioned, and it may safely be assumed that the conditions were fairly 
observed. At the 1875 trial, however, one gun was noticed to ball the shot to 
such an extent that the charge, instead of spreading over the target, pierced the 
thin iron plate of which it was composed, and the gun was at once disqualified and 
withdrawn from the competition. The balling aroused suspicion and led to an 
investigation. On the ground near the target a felt wad was picked up. It had 
been severed laterally, the inside hollowed out large enough to hold 16 pellets or 
more, then the edges were pasted together again. The extra charge of shot, 16 or 
more pellets, would greatly increase the pattern at that range, providing, as was 
doubtless generally the case, the wad opened and allowed the shot to escape. 
At this 1875 trial the committee supplied the powder and shot only, the gun- 
makers furnishing cases and wadding. 

At a Continental trial some years ago a rival gun-maker, during an adjournment, 
and after the author's guns had been shot, induced the attendants to shorten the 
range a few yards by advancing the target, stand, etc. ; the rival gun, of course, 


The Gun and its Development. 

did remarkably well, so well, in fact, that the distance was challenged, and the 
trick discovered. At another Continental trial the system was altogether so loose, 
the counting and examination of the targets so long delayed, thus affording many 
opportunities for tampering with them, that the author and other writers have 
refrained from quoting any of the official returns. 

LONDON GUN TRIALS OF 1859, 1866, 1875, 1878, 1879, and the 
.AMERICAN GUN TRIALS OF 1873, 1874, 1879. 


London Gun Trial, 1859 




Chilled shot. 

Right. Left. 






No. 6 

290 pellets to oz. 

158 1X8 






No. 6 

144 90 

London Gun Trial, 1866 


12 bore 




No. 6 

280 pellets to oz. 

131 123 






No. 5 

ioo3 Il8< 

London Gun Trial, 1875 



1 2 -bore 




No. 6 

270 pellets to oz. 


* Breech-loader 





No. 6 







No. 6 


*Breech-loader ... 





No. 6 


London Gun Trial of Explo- 

sives, 1878 






No. 6 


London Gun Trial, 1879 


1 2 -bore 



No. 6 

270 pellets to oz. 






No. 6 

1 74-00 

Breech-loader ... 




No. 6 


New York Gun Trial, 1873 






No. 6 

Shot with paper shell 







No. 6 

Shot with metal shell 







No. 6 

Shot with paper shell 


Chicago Gun Trial, 1874 






No. 7 

309 pellets to oz. 







No. 7 


Chicago Gun Trial, 1879 


12 -bore 




291 pellets to oz. 



















138 . 

* These four guns were shot in the selected circle, and with chilled shot. 

Detailed accounts of these trials will be found in the author's book, 
History and Shooting of Choke-bore Guns." 


The Shooting Capabilities of Shot-guns. 351 



The pellets loaded into a cartridge or gun barrel leave the barrel in the same 
order as they occupied when in the chamber, and continue in the same direction, 
more or less compactly, until they are arrested by striking some object, or, their 
velocity exhausted, they fall to the ground. The distance from the gun to the point 
at which the pellet having greatest muzzle velocity falls to the ground is its extreme 
range ; the limit of the killing range is the point at which several of the pellets have 
sufficient proximity to each other to hit, and enough velocity to penetrate, the game 
it is sought to bring to bag. The pattern is a diagram which, taken at any point 
short of the extreme range, will show the lateral deviation from a common centre 
of every pellet passing the point at which the pattern is taken. It will not show 
the stringing of the charge that is, the distance between the first and last pellets in 
the direction of the flight of the charge. The distance between the widest apart 
pellets in a line transverse to the line of flight will be less at all sporting ranges than 
the distance between the first and last pellets measured in the line of flight. This 
fact needs to be remembered when examining the pattern as shown on a flat target. 
The distance between two pellets, as seen on the target, may be less than half an 
inch ; in reality it may have been that one was six or more feet distant from the 
other, but both having approximately the same line of flight are, when arrested by 
the target, shown almost touching. 

Pattern is the shown shooting of a gun, the only visible proof of a gun's 
capabilities. The gun which shoots best must make the closest pattern, and a 
pattern which reveals the least deviation of the pellets from the common centre 
supposes also that individual pellets have been less in advance, and in rear, of the 
main body of shot during flight than would have been the case had the spread 

352 The Gun and its Development. 

upon the target been larger. For this reason, the patterns recorded at the London 
Gun Trials are invaluable for reference, and the tabulated summary added to the 
condensed report the author has made will render reference easy. 

Velocity is the next important test applicable to shooting. Velocity 
generally means a good pattern. Penetration is still more the result of high 

The author will now attempt to set forth, in as i&w words as possible, what 
patterns and what velocities have t)een recorded, with various explosives, in guns 
of different calibre, and how by alterations in the quantities of powder and shot 
used, the size of the pellets, etc., different results have been obtained. 

The following diagrams will give -at a glance an approximate idea of the 
difference in the flight of a charge of shot from a choke-bore and a cylinder gun, 
and also the difference caused by an increased charge of powder in the choke^ 
but as the velocity varies at the different ranges, the diagrams do not show 
accurately the approximate divergence at all ranges. On the 40-yard diagram one 
inch is equal to eight feet horizontally, and to two feet only measured perpen- 
dicularly. It should be borne in mind that these diagrams were made with an 
acknowledged good gun, and with cartridges most carefully loaded, by Mr. R. W. S, 
Griffith, of the "Schultze Powder Co.," for certain experiments. The results here 
reproduced, and several others, will be found in the sixty-ninth volume of the Field, 
similar diagrams having previously appeared in Land and Water. 

A few further particulars respecting the flight of a charge of shot may be of use 
to the spoxtsman. With the usual charge of 3 drams to i^ ozs. of No. 6, the 
spread of the shot at 5 yards from the muzzle of a choke-bored gun will be about 
5 inches, at 10 about 8, at 15 yards 12 inches; with No. 2 shot the spread will be 
about if inches less at each range; and with No. 8 shot will be very little more 
than with No. 6 at 5 yards, but 2\ inches more at 10 yards, and 4 inches more at 
1 5 yards. If the charge of powder is increased, the spread of the shot at these 
ranges is increased. In a 12-bore gun charges of more than 3^ drams do not 
generally give greater penetration to the majority of the pellets, although z.few pellets 
of the charge have a greater velocity. No. 6 shot, having a velocity of 500 feet per 
second, should penetrate 18 sheets of a "Pettitt" pad, and will be equal to an 
energy of 0*90 foot-pounds. No. 3 shot at the same velocity should penetrate 
23 sheets, and will equal 176 foot-pounds; whilst No. 8 shot at same velocity 
will penetrate but 16 sheets, and have an energy equal to 0*56 foot-pounds. A 
velocity of 700 is equal to a penetration of 36 sheets with No. 6, of 39 sheets with 
No. 5, of 47 sheets with No. 2, of 31 sheets with No. 8. 



- o S o 

9 be n o 

- o <u 

f^r^C-'J.^J Q ri *> '" '" Q A C ^ Q\' 

'^S " .S 3 "5- ^ .S .ii '^ iJ o .S " .E 5 ti 

LJ ^ 





1- < 




o w 

Q . 

z , 

UJ u. 

> ^ 





- 3-t: '^IC'^'ci 

J2 "u 



O Hx^ 

en M 






a Cyl 




e Gun 
6 C 



-ots -2 d 



of N 



CC -A 

I- < 


a CO 

> ^ 


O fO ..V 

o iJ 

I 6 

6 ^ ^ 

4_, '^ ^ 

- C c cu d j; .b 

7 1 


(0 u 
I ^ I-' 


^ ^ d U5 ^ 0^ O 

<< < 


< *. : 

u .S 

-S a. 











^ I 


Pattern of the Cylinder Gun at 
40 Yards. 

Pattern of Ghoke-bored Gun atetX^ 
40 Yards. 

(The stringing of the pellets of these patterns is shown on opposite page.) 

Pattern of the same Choke-bored Gun at 40 Yards, with 49 grains of Schultze Powder 
and i^ oz. No. 6 Chilled Shot. (For stringing see page 359.) 






















































UJ ^ 

CD a 

cc ^- 

< s 

I- < 


LiJ t 

u. c: 

S 'a Ij 'a f* 

A O ^ O 

VO ^ 


ij .E iJ i; 

" ^ "T ^ aj 


- O C 

ro_C -S^C v) ' 

<> *: 

" Tf O 

; 00 

N <U M I 

t^ U5 fl u5 -, "^ 

cJ ci > PS *^ ^ 
>>>-> >^c *" 
o o -2 o " ^ 

Q <:<< < 

rt ^^ T}"'w ^^ 

1 o 00 00 '^ 


^, " 

ro O ^'C 1) 

ui ^ 


t soya 

in th 







the 3 
belt ; 




360 The Gun and its Development. 

distribution of the pattern. 

The distribution of the pellets on a 4-feet target varies, as between chokes and 
cylinders at the various ranges, as follows : 

The i2-bore choke, with 42 grains Schultze and 304 pellets. No. 6 

At 10 yards. All in the 30-inch circle. 

At 20 yards. All in the 30-inch circle. 

At 30 yards. 278 in the 30-inch, 24 in the 30-48-inch belt, 2 outside the 4-feet 

At 40 yards. 233 in the 30-inch, 90 in the 30-48-inch belt, 54 outside the 
4-feet circle. 

At 50 yards. 160 in the 30-inch, 90 in the 30-48-inch belt, 54 outside the 
4-feet circle. 

At 60 yards. 100 in the 30-inch circle, 95 in the 30-48-inch belt, 109 outside 
the 4-feet circle. 

The i2-bore cylinder, with 42 grains Schultze and 304 pellets of No. 6 

At 10 yards. All in the 30-inch circle. 

At 20 yards. 264 in the 30-inch, 38 in the 30-48-inch belt, 2 outside the 4-feet 

At 30 yards. 172 in the 30-inch circle, 90 in the 30-48-inch belt, 42 outside 
the 4-feet circle. 

At 40 yards. 130 in the 30-inch circle, 103 in the 30-48-inch belt, 71 outside 
the 4-feet circle. 

At 50 yards. 76 in the 30-inch circle, 86 in the 30-48-inch belt, 142 outside 
the 4-feet circle. 

At 60 yards. 61 in the 30 inch circle, 57 in the 30-48-inch belt, 186 outside 
the 4-feet circle. 

With reference to the pellets outside the 4-feet circle, it has been proved that 
occasionally one pellet, or more, will be 10, 15, or even 20 yards from the centre of 
the charge. 


The diagrams indicate that about 5 per cent, of the pellets of the charge 
arrive simultaneously at a target placed forty yards from the gun ; these pellets 
are very closely followed by 25 to 30 per cent, of the pellets if the charge of 
the gun be a good shooting one, and this 30 to 40 per cent, of pellets 
represents the actual killing value of the shot, since the remaining pellets, flying 
irregularly, and at a much lower velocity, tail off so rapidly that little reliance can 

The Shooting Capabilities of Shot-guns. 


be placed upon them. These differences will be at once recognised by examining 
the divided diagram on page 359. From it those particularly interested will be 
enabled to calculate the approximate distances between the pellets as shown in the 
other diagrams, and also between the pellets at any other distance. 

The facsimile targets shown exhibit the usual pattern faithfully, being a photo- 
graphic reduction of the actual diagrams ; but to show accurately, and on the same 
scale, the side-view illustrating the pellets in flight at sixty yards from a cylinder 
gun, would require a diagram nearly five feet in length. 

With a cylinder gun, with 42 grains of " Schultze " and 304 pellets of No. 6 
shot, the first pellets reach the target at forty yards' distance in '138 second, 
whereas the last pellets do not reach it until '187 second; consequently, whilst the 
first pellets may strike a bird at forty yards, the slower pellets have not reached a 
distance of thirty yards from the muzzle of the gun. 

Table showing the Various Velocities attained by the Pellets 

OF a Charge. 


First cluster of pellets 
reach the target. 

2i;pr. cent. 


Gun and Load. 



pattern time '^>"''"- 

,'^g for the J 
behind. range. ^ 

First Series. 
W. W. Greener Choke-bore, 
with \\qz. No. 6 shot, and 
42 grains of "Schultze" 


1 132 












Second Series. 

W. W. Greener Choke-bore, 
with i^oz. No. 6 shot, and 
49 grains of "Schultze" 

* This one is marked on photo- 
graph to show method of 




1 124 






01 12 




Third Series. 
W. W. Greener Cylinder, 
with i^oz. No. 6 shot, and 
42 grains of ' ' Schultze " pow- 















743 . 


The Gun and its Development, 


It is impossible, in the space at the author's disposal, to show the many 
variations in the velocity of the flight of a charge of shot, but in the following table 
a few figures are given showing how the difference in the size of the pellets and the 
charge of explosive used affects the velocity at different ranges. Unlike the results 
in the foregoing table, which are muzzle velocities, the figures in this table give the 
actual velocity in feet per second of the average of the pellets over the range indicated, 
and were measured by Mr. R. W. S. Griffith. All were obtained with a choke-bore 
gun of i2-gauge, of the author's manufacture, and the explosive used was the 
Schultze nitro-powder. 



5 Yds. 

10 Yds. 

IS Yds. 

20 Yds. 

25 Yds. 

30 Yds. 

35 Yds. 

40 Yds. 

45 Yds. 



55 Yds. 60 Yds 




I No 











802 7S0 



1 168 

1 1 50 

1 1 20 










\\ 11 

1 169 

1 140 

1 1 26 













1 198 



1 103 









li .. 



1 130 











Ik ,. 






1 106 



















710 ' 684 



1 160 


1 106 


102 1 






764 729 


i^ ,, 


1 127 










741 672 


li M 


1 182 

1 164 

1 136 








799 , 757 




1 130 










741 ! 689 





1 190 




105 1 





810 764 













690 651 




1 130 

1 100 








730 694 


h L' 



109 1 









717 652 






1 120 








780 ; 723 



*4 > 



1 100 

108 1 








714 1 663 


I4 >> 


1 199 










774 ; 734 













465 370 



1 120 













1 4 .'! 

















1 126 










550 460 














540 446 


H .. 














" In connection with the general question of measuring the velocity of shot-guns, it may be 
interesting to point out that thfe records show a gradual improvement during the past twenty 
years. In 1878 the acknowledged standard velocity was 845 foot-seconds. In 1886 it had risen 
to 855 foot-seconds, and now an average of 870 to 880 foot-seconds can be relied upon at 40 
yards with No. 6 shot. From this, there appears to be every prospect of reaching a muzzle 
velocity of 900 foot-seconds without disturbing the excellent patterns given with the lower values 
at present in use." R. W. S. Griffith, Lecture to the Gun-makers' Association, 1896. 

The Shooting Capabilities of Shot-guns. 



The bore of the gun affects velocity as follows : 

20-bore gun, with 2\ drams and i oz. No. 6 shot, average velocity 725 ft ; 
with same charge, but No. 5 shot, average velocity 738*8 ft. per second. 

The Winning Pattern at the Leavenworth Trial, made with a W. W. Greener Gun and "Quick Shot " 

Powder, and \\ ounce of No. 8 Shot. 

i6-bore gun, with 2\ drams and i oz. No. 6 shot, average velocity 780 ft. ; 
with same charge, but No. 5 shot, 791 ft. 

i2-bore gun, with 3i drams and i^ oz. No. 6 shot, average velocity 842-171 ft. 


The Gun and its Development. 

lo-bore gun, with 4^ drams and \\ oz. No. 6 shot, average velocity 890 ft. ; 
with same charge, but No. 4 shot, 936 ft. ; with \\ oz. No. i shot and 5 drams of 
powder, 943 ft. 

Facsimile of the Shooting of the W. W. Greener Gun with 42 grains Schultze Powder and \\ ounce 

No. 6 Shot, 270 to the ounce. 

8-bore gun, with 6 drams of powder, paper case, and 2\ ozs. No. i shot, 
average velocity 907 ft. ; with 7 drams No. 4 powder and 2\ ozs. No. i shot, and 
brass case, average velocity 984 ft. ; with same load, but finer-grained powder, 
945 ft. ; with same load, but with ducking powder, expressly manufactured for 8- and 
^-bore duck guns, average velocity only 904 ft. 

The Shooting Capabilities of Shot-guns. 


With 3 drams and i oz. of No. 6 the average velocities should be with 1 2-bore, 
about 870 ft. per second ; with i6-bore, about 885 ft. per second; with 20-bore, 
about 920 ft. per second. 


The diagram made by the pellets fired at a sheet of paper, or an iron or other 
target, is \.\\q pattern of the gun's shooting. In order to ascertain a gun's shooting 
power, all the expert needs to do is to fire it at a large sheet of paper with the 
standard charge for its gauge. For comparison with other results, the number of 
pellets striking within a 30-inch circle may be taken as the shooting of the gun. 
A good close pattern is a guarantee that the gun has sufficient force to kill ; for 
the greater the velocity of the mass of the pellets the closer is the pattern. No 
close-shooting gun has inferior penetration ; and, speaking generally, the nearer 
each pellet mark is to the common centre the less distant will the first and last 
pellets of the charge be to each other : a close pattern means, therefore, that there 
is no great difference in the velocity of the individual pellets. Occasional bad 
patterns, or patchy patterns, prove the gun to be improperly bored ; the closer the 
pattern at forty yards the longer the killing range of the gun with that load. As a 
pattern of a gun's shooting is easily ascertained, and is easily understandable, some 
space may be devoted profitably to facsimile reproductions of good average patterns 
and tables of loads, showing how with different bores and charges these same 
patterns and "killing circles " may be approximated. 

A gun made by the author for the Schultze Gunpowder Company has been 
used for many years to test different batches of powder, and many important trials 
made with it, and the results made public. The following table gives the average 
of a thousand shots from each barrel each year the left barrel is ordinary full- 
choke, the right modified choke : 



1,000 Shots 




Left barrel. 

Right barrel 

























These figures clearly prove that a choke will stand all fair wear and tear, and 
further that Schultze powder has no deleterious effect upon good gun barrels. 


The Gun and its Development. 

It is not to be supposed from these figures that guns improve in shooting to 
any marked extent by use, but rather as indicating a gradual improvement in the 
quality of the powder, and that the shooting of a gun does not deteriorate by 
proper use. 

After 80,000 shots had been fired from the gun, it was tried, and the pattern 
here reproduced was then obtained with 42 grains of Schultze powder and \\ oz. 
of shot of 270 pellets to the ounce. 


Patterns made on 2nd July, 273 

1885, with this gun and W. W. 276 

Greener's Loaded Cartridges, 255 

42 grains of Schultze Powder, 276 

and \\ oz. of No. 6 Chilled 260 

Shot (305 pellets counted in). 252 

Average 265-3 


Patterns made with same Gun 259 

on 30th July, 1885. W. W. 251 

Greener's specially Loaded 241 

Cartridges, 42 grains of Schultze 235 

Powder, and i| oz. of No. 6 240 

Chilled Shot (305 pellets 260 

counted in). 

Average 247*4 

Average obtained before two Gentlemen of the "Field " Staff, Aug. 8th, 1885 255. 

Any gun, if a good one, should shoot all good powders well; it may, of course, be 
slightly better with one than another, but with good powder and a suitable charge it 
should always shoot well. The author tries all guns with the best explosives readily 
obtainable in England, and his guns, when shooting close and well with English 
powder, perform equally satisfactorily with the powders obtainable abroad. 

At a gun trial held at Leavenworth in 1886, a Greener 12-bore gun was shot at 
forty yards with " King's Quick Shot " powder an explosive the author had never 
had an opportunity of trying. The gun beat all its opponents easily some were 
much heavier guns and of larger calibre and made a target of which the diagram 
shown on page 363 is a facsimile. 

Similar diagrams can be produced at any time, under equal conditions, so it is 
unnecessary to reproduce further reduced facsimiles, and it is needless to adduce 
proof that the diagrams were actually made and the proof that they were so made 
is overwhelming nor can the fidelity with which they have been reproduced by 
photographic process be doubted. 

The next diagrams are actual size, and show exactly the positions of the pellets 
on the paper target, and will give the reader an idea of the actual closeness of 
pattern in the centre of the target. The one with No. 6 shot is equal to a pattern 
of 230 in a 30-inch circle; the one with No. 8 is equal to a pattern of 300 in the 
30-inch circle. 

Pattern of i2-bore Choke, with i^ oz. No. 6 Shot, at 40 yards. 


Diagram of i2.bore Full Choke, and No. 8 Shot, at 40 yards. 

The Shooting Capabilities op Shot-guns. 



The term *' Killing circle " is used to designate the extent of the spread of the 
pellets in a lateral direction, so long as the "pattern " is not too wide to allow of 
the escape of the game. 

At 40 yards from the muzzle of 'a gun it has been proved that on frequent 
occasions a few pellets of the charge will be found 10, 15, and even 20 yards from 
the centre of the body of the charge ; thus, at 40 yards a gun may, whilst putting 
the greater number of its pellets into a 30-inch circle, scatter some 40 yards 


Facsimile No. i. Circle, 30 in. diameter. 

Facsimile No. 2. Circle, 30 in. diameter. 

The facsimile reproduction of targets made by the author will enable the 
sportsman to see at a glance the comparative density of patterns, and the 
approximate killing spread of the gun. These targets, obtained with guns of different 
gauges, may be approximated by guns of any gauge by altering the load or the 
range, or both. 

No, I. Number of pellets in circle, 163. Killing circle, about 26 in. Diagram 
represents the shooting of a 28-bore gun, full choked, at 40 yards, with ih dram of 
powder and |^ oz. No. 7 shot. 

A similar pattern would be made with a 20-bore and i oz. No. 6 shot, or a 
20-bore with i| oz. No. 5 should be no closer, but a killing circle two inches larger 


The Gun and its Development. 

No. 2. Number of pellets in circle, 285. Killing circle, 30 in. This diagram 
represents the shooting of a 28-bore cylinder gun, at 20 yards, with i| dram 
and f oz. No. 7 shot. , 

Facsimile No. 5. Circle, 30 in. 

Facsimile No. 6. Circle, 30 in. diameter. 
Plate, 4 ft. . 

A similar result is obtainable from a 20-bore cylinder with f oz. No. 8 shot. 
No 3. Number of pellets in circle, 131. Killing circle, about 18 in. This 

The Shooting Capabilities of Shot-guns. 


diagram represents the shooting of a 28-bore gun, choke-bored, at 20 yards' 
distance; charge, i| dram and f oz. of No. 6 shot. 

A similar pattern results from using a 20-bore with i oz. No. 5 shot at 18 yards; 
with |- oz. No. 6 a 20-bore at 20 yards makes a killing circle about two inches larger. 

No. 4. Number of pellets in circle, 292. Killing circle, about 25 in. This 
diagram represents the shooting of a 12-bore gun, choke-bored; distance, 20 
yards ; charge, 3 drams and i^ oz. No. 6 shot. 

A similar pattern results with a 20-bore at 20 yards with i oz. No. 8 shot, 
but with the 2o-bore the killing circle is a little less. 

Reduced Facsimile of the "Pattern" of a Choke upon a Pigeon. 

o. 5. Number of pellets in circle, 288. KiUing circle, 3b in. This diagram 
represents the shooting of 12-bore cylinder gun at 20 yards; charge, 3 drains 
and i\ oz. No. 6. ' 

The same result is obtainable from a choke at 20 yards, by using i oz. No. 6 
and scatter charge, or by using a brass case gun at 40 yards with ij oz. No. 7, or 
with i^ oz. No. 8 at 40 yards. 

No. 6. Number of pellets in circle, 250. Killing circle, about 35 inches. 
This diagram represents the shooting of a pigeon gun, 1 2-bore, with 4 drams and 
i^ oz. No. 6 shot. 

The boring for^a gun to shoot as No. 6 facsimile is of a special kind, designed 

372 The Gun and its Development. 

to produce a regular pattern, not too thick in centre, but sufficiently thick to kill in 
a circle of 35 inches. 

The instructions for approximating any other gun to one of the depicted patterns 
are based upon several series of experiments made at different times, and the data 
are sufficient to permit of reliable conclusions. 

The illustration shows the pattern of a 1 2-bore choke gun upon a pigeon ; 
the rough outlines of the bird's body (exact size) flying crosswise, to and away 
from, the shooter, were sketched in the centre of a large sheet before shooting, 
and the illustration is an exact reproduction of the resulting target. Had the 
birds been in motion^ and flying rapidly enough, it is possible that they might have 
fled into the line of other pellets, but they would also have escaped some of those 
shown as striking them, for the marks were in situ from the time of the arrival 
of the first to the striking of the last pellet of the charge on the target, and the 
longitudinal spread at 40 yards is about three times greater than the lateral spread, 
so that the chances of a bird escaping by flying through a string of pellets are three 
times greater than if the bird remained stationary in their line of flight. 

The author has known as many as six successive shots to be fired from a 
cylinder i2bore gun at a stationary pigeon without it being killed, the distance 
only 35 yards, the charge and load a full one, and, as shown on the target, the 
pigeon well in the centre of the pellets' flight each time. After the sixth shot the 
bird was examined and found to have been struck by nine pellets only. 

On the other hand, the cylinder gun put 54 pellets into a pigeon at 15 
yards' range, and at 20 yards the choke averaged but 40. 

The small-bore gun will kill as well as the larger bore, provided the pattern be 
as close, but when the bird struck is not in the centre of the pellets it is not always 
killed, A pigeon placed in a wooden box 6 by 7 inches, with its broadside to the 
gun and a piece of thin paper only between the bird and the gun, was fired at with 
a 2 1 -bore gun, with the following results at different ranges : 

Charge. on 7 by 6. Result. 

No. I Pigeon, 40 yards, \\ dram, \ oz. No. 6 13 Bird struck in body, but not in any way 

No. 2 Pigeon, 40 yards, if dram, ^ oz. No. 6 12 Leg broken; one pellet in breast ; not 

disabled from flying. 
No. 3 Pigeon, 35 yards, i dram, | oz. No. 6 18 Shot in body, but not disabled. 
No. 4 Pigeon, 35 yards, ij dram, J oz. No. 6 18 Shot in body, but not disabled. 
No. 5 Pigeon, 30 yards, ij dram, | oz. No. 6 23 Killed dead. 
No. 6 Pigeon, 30 yards, i dram, J oz. No. 6 35 Killed dead. 

A study of these results and the loads used reveals the truth of the assertion 

The Shooting Capabilities oe Shot-guns. 373 

the author has so many times made as to the relative values of pattern and 
penetration ; i dram with f oz. of No. 6 gives a denser pattern than when i^ dram 
is used, and kills the bird equally well ; but in all cases where the pattern was not 
dense enough to strike the bird in several places, although the penetration and 
velocity were great, the bird was not killed. 

As to the amount of penetration, striking force, or velocity requisite to kill, experi- 
ments were made at the Chicago Gun Trial in 1879 to determine what penetration 
of straw-boards was equal to penetration of a pigeon, when it was agreed that any 
force strong enough to pierce twelve to fourteen sheets of straw-board was sufficient 
to kill such birds as pigeons or ducks. The loads and gauges which will accomplish 
this amount of penetration are given in detail in the next chapter. It remains only 
to remark that large-sized shot is more deadly : shot of 270 to the ounce penetrated 
and proved deadly in birds which shot of 375 to the ounce at the same velocity 
failed to kill. A penetration of seven straw-boards entered the body of a duck. 

The reason feathers are knocked out of birds is not because the gun lacks 
penetration power, for the pellets striking the bird at an oblique angle cut, injure, 
and root out the feathers ; the bird escapes because the pattern is not close enough 
to ensure at least one pellet striking a vital part. 

To ascertain correctly the closest pattern the gun is capable of making with a 
certain load, a selected circle must be taken, the centre of which circle may or may 
not exactly coincide with the fixed centre of the target. The deviation is due 
to faulty aiming, and the shooting quality of the gun must not be held dependent 
upon such personal errors when testing it for best results. 

Numerous trials have been made by the technical staff of the Field newspaper 
to determine the relative value of guns of different calibres with various loads, and 
to discover the calibre which with the least powder would impart the requisite 
velocity to a load of shot. Roughly the results were as follows : 

" With I oz. of shot, 33 grs. in the 20-bore, and 35 grs. in the i6-bore, gave the same impetus 
as 38 grs. in the 12-bore ; for, with the diminution of gauge, the length of the shot-charge 
increases ; and the greater amount of frictional resistance to the movement of the shot causes a 
larger dev-elopment of explosive force in the powder." 

As to the most suitable loading, speaking generally 

" Under ordinary conditions, with the older varieties of nitro-powders (which are about one- 
half the specific weight of black powders), the proportion of powder to lead is near about i to i2 
Thus, 41 grains of the nitro-powder are one-twelfth the weight of i^oz. or 492 grains of shot ; 
and 36 or 37 grains of powder are proportionate to an ounce of shot. When the proportion of 
shot much exceeds 12 to i, the velocity does not come up to the standard; as is especially 
shown in the case of the 32-bore, where the shot-charge was rather more than 20 times th& 
weight of the powder, and the speed of the shot was consequently very low. 

374 ^^^ Gun and its Development. 



The varieties of the shot-gun are almost as numerous as the purposes for which 
guns are required. There is no actual limit, perhaps, to be set upon the capabilities 
of any weapon until trial has been made a customer of the author's once shot a 
couple of snipe with an 8-bore elephant rifle but ordinarily a gun is made for 
some special purpose, and in size and weight will conform to the shooting required 
of it. The collector who requires humming-birds, and the wild-fowler who thinks 
of getting wild geese, will arm themselves very differently. 

Again, some guns have to be carried throughout a long day's walk ; in other 
sports the gun is only in the hand the couple of seconds requisite to aim and fire. 
It is, therefore, evident that what is desired for one sport is of little importance in a 
gun desired for another sport. 

The capabilities of the shot-gun as a shooting weapon are determined by its size ; 
the smaller calibres do not do so well with the large-sized shot as the large-bores ; 
the capabilities of each calibre, each length of barrel, and each charge suitable 
thereto, will now be specified, in order that the sportsman may know which variety 
of gun will best suit his purpose. 

There are certain essentials which should be possessed by all varieties of guns. 
Amongst the chief of them are Facihty in loading at the breech, freedom from 
danger to the user or his companions, simplicity of mechanism, speed in manipula- 
tion, handiness, lasting power. 

The chief purposes for which shot-guns are required are For game shooting, 
for trap shooting at pigeons, for wild-fowling. 

The game gun may be of any bore from 28 to 10, although it is rare that the 
i2-gauge is exceeded. 


The small-bore gun is not the toy some suppose it to be. True, it has not 
taken the position it was thought to have gained by those who championed it at the 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Powers. 375 

London ivifA/ Trials of 1879, but it is indisputable that, in the hands of good shots, 
the small-bore is a really efficient weapon. 

A few instances of the use made of the 28-bore will be of interest. 

"Young Nimrod," when 11 years of age, shot with a 28-bore of the author's 
make, and did remarkably well. In public pigeon matches he was placed at 
27 yards, and at that distance upon more than one occasion has killed his 38 out of 
50 best Blue Rocks. Sometimes he would grass many birds in succession, several 
strings of 17, n, and 13 having been scored to him, which is evidence not only 
of his skill as a marksman, but of the killing powers of his gun. His score of 
88-100 at clay pigeons with | oz. shot also deserves recording. 

A nobleman, well known in sporting circles, wrote the author the following in 
November, 1884: 

" I had the 28-bore out for a few shots at pheasants yesterday, and I am much pleased with 
it, kilhng eight birds in succession, and four of them at least thirty-five yards oH, flying away- 
low, and one with the choke-barrel a very long shot we measured it fifty-three yards, and the 
bird was flying away within three yards from the ground ; it fell stone dead to the gun. I shot 
a hare with the right not choked barrel at thirty-four yards as dead as a nail. (Charge used, 
i^ dram black powder, f oz. No. 6)." 

Again, on February 4, 1885 : 

" I can only say your 28-bore gun cannot be improved upon ; its shooting is quite first-class. 
I have given it a capital trial, and find it shoots as strong as a 12-bore. Of course you have to 
lay on straight, then I defy any gun to shoot harder ; it has had a really good and heavy trial.' 

Another good shot writes : 

" I have tried the little gun, have made some very long dead shots at rabbits, and am 
confident of success at game." 

A single 24-bore gun, made for a lady, and weighing but a trifle over three pounds, 
is a first-class all-round game gun ; partridges, pheasants, hares, and rabbits are shot 
regularly. The efficiency of the gun, however, is better demonstrated by the fact 
that it is preferred by the owner's brothers to their own 12-bore guns for shooting 
at the wood pigeons as they come home to roost in the high elms in the park, and 
on one occasion a fallow doe was shot dead with it at 25 yards' distance with 
seven-eighths of an ounce of No. 7 shot. 

The small-bores may therefore be ranked as serviceable weapons, whilst for 
boys about to commence shooting, the 28- or 24-bore double is to be preferred to 
the single gun. They are, of course, more expensive ; to build them well requires 
more care and a greater outlay than the building of a gun of ordinary sporting 

376 The Gun and its Development. 

gauge. The author does not recommend either of these bores, especially the latter, 
unless for use by a first-rate shot or a boy beginning to practise ; the ideal gun for 
ladies is of larger bore. 

The 20-B0RE has been strenuously advocated by writers in the sporting papers, 
but there are very few sold the proportion is perhaps one 20-bore to twenty of 
i6-bore. The 20-bore should not have barrels longer than 28 in., nor should it be 
heavier than 5^ lbs., and the full standard load is 2\ drams and i oz. of shot. 
They can also be made 28 in. barrels, 5 lbs. ; 27 in., 4f lbs., ; 25 in., 4J lbs. ; and 
so on in proportion. 

In the 1875 Gun Trials, W. W. Greener's gun was first in the class for 20-bores 
with a gun using only 2^ drams of powder and i oz. of shot, beating in both pattern 
and penetration heavier guns shooting larger charges. A frequent error, and one 
which is of importance, is the overloading of small-bore guns, for sportsmen 
overlook the point that the gun does not fail to kill owing to a lack of penetrative 
force, but because the pattern is not sufficiently close. With moderate charges the 
penetration of any well-bored gun is sufficient. 

The following testimony proves what can be done with this calibre : 

" In trying some experiments with the 20-bore (Greener) at paper targets, I found that with 
32 grains of Schuhze, and thin card, felt, and Field, wad, with i oz. No. 5 or 4 shot, the gun 
made a very good pattern, and in the month of February I did some very good work with it 
on big pheasants, also shot a barking deer at 56 paces with ball. I am very pleased with 
the gun." 

The 16-BORE GUN was at one time a favourite with Continental sportsmen, 
who now for the most part prefer the 1 2-bore \ for use in England probably not one 
gun in five hundred is made i6-bore. This size of gun shoots as strongly as does 
the 12, but the killing circle is less. The standard weight for the i6-bore was 
6| lbs. ; the barrel was 30 inches in length and regulated to shoot best with 
2 1 drams of powder and i oz. of shot, or with 28 in. barrels 6| lbs., but 6 lbs. is 
uow considered to be quite heavy enough for any i6-bore with 28 in. barrels. 
The one advantage of the i6-bore is its lightness, and, when built in the same 
fashion as the miniature 12-bores, the 16 may be 5 J lbs. with 28 in. barrels, 
5|- lbs. with 27 in. barrels, and about 5 lbs. with barrels as short as 26 in. The 
lightest i6-bore the author ever made had 25 in. barrels, and weighed 4 lbs. 
II ozs. only. 

The following letter, addressed to the author by a prominent sportsman, proves 
that in the right hands the i6-bore possesses qualities of which much can 
be made : 

Varieties op Shot-guns and their Shooting Powers. 377 

"The little i6-bore ejector gun I ordered came to hand, and I have had a good opportunity 
of testing it, and must say I am very much pleased with it. 

" I killed some geese at 50 to 55 yards with it, using 3 drs. E.G. and i oz. No. i shot, but of 
course it is not a goose gun." 

The 1 4- bore breech-loader is rarely made and possesses no distinct advantages, 
and has the serious disadvantage of being a size for which cartridges are not easily 
procurable. It was a convenient size to which to convert muzzle-loaders to breech- 
loaders, as few of the old 1 3-bore muzzle-loaders were made sufificiently stout at the 
breech to allow of being chambered for 12-gauge cartridge cases, 


The i2-bore gun is the standard calibre for game and pigeon guns, and is made 
in greater varieties and weights than any gun of other calibre. The usual weight of 
the double-barrelled gun is from 6\ to 6f lbs., the barrels are 30 inches long, chambered 
for the usual cartridge case, which is 2^^ inches in length ; it will shoot well with 
the standard charge of 3 drams and i\ oz. of No. 5 or 6, but for use early in the 
season a lighter load may be used with advantage. 

The ordinary game gun should have a killing circle of 30 inches at thirty yards 
with the first barrel, and at forty yards with the second. 

The gun for covert shooting will give a 30-inch killing circle at twenty yards 
with the first and at thirty with the second. 

The gun for grouse-driving will be bored to give a killing circle of thirty inches 
in diameter at the longest possible range ; the gun not to be more than 7 lbs. 
weight. The tendency, however, is to build guns still lighter, and with shorter 
barrels than 28 inches, as they serve equally well the purposes of general sport. 

Longer barrels than 30 inches are sometimes made, but experiments have proved 
that no advantage is gained either in pattern or penetration by so doing. In 
South Africa, where much shooting is done from the saddle, the barrels of the 
i2-bores are often 36 inches in length. This extra length is necessary to get 
the muzzles clear of the horse ; from the gun-maker's point of view nothing is gained 
by making any gun with barrels more than 40 diameters in length. 


The principle upon which the very light game guns of standard gauge are con- 
structed is that of reducing the 12-bore gun in length and bore of barrel to the exact 
capacity required by the sporting charge of 3 drams and i^ ounce. From 
numerous experiments the author has arrived at the conclusion that a barrel of 25 

378 The Gun and its Development. 

inches long, choke-bored, will satisfactorily burn 3 drams of powder, and propel 
\\ ounce of shot at a high velocity ; in fact, that for ordinary game shooting the 
i2-bore with 25 inches will shoot this charge as well as it need be shot. By carefully 
reducing the 12-boregun, in barrels, breech-action, locks, and stock, a miniature gun 
is produced from one to one and a half pounds lighter than the normal 12-bore, and 
shooting the standard 12-bore charge nearly as well as the ordinary 12-bore choke 
gun does. These miniature guns require great care and considerable skill to be 
exercised in their manufacture ; it is quite im.possible for any maker without 
practical experience to produce perfect weapons of this kind. The 27-inch barrels 
will be found to permit of better marksmanship than shorter barrels, and, conse- 
quently, imless there is a good reason for doing so, guns should not be made 
with barrels shorter than 27 inches. Although they are sometimes made lighter 
than 5^ lbs., it is only at a sacrifice of strength. A reliable gun, with breech ends 
of the barrels of the ordinary thickness, can be made as light as 5I lbs., below which 
it is inadvisable to go. 

A miniature 1 2-bore gun, therefore, will always command a fair price, and can 
never be made in the cheapest grades. It must fire 3 drams and \\ ounce to 
perfection, and without appreciable recoil a larger charge cannot be used with 
comfort ; balance and handle perfectly every part being reduced from the ordinary 
12-bore gun size; it must stand the heavy wear and tear of the hardest season, and 
yet be perfectly safe. 

This is the weapon Birmingham has produced, and its many advantages will 
commend it to those sportsmen whose work is not such as lies beyond the 
capabilities of 3 drams of powder and i^ ounce of shot. 

The following letters will convey some idea of the power and range of miniature 
shot guns : 

" In 1878 I had a 12-gauge gun with 24-in. barrels, made by W. W. Greener, of Birmingham, 
which I have shot ever since, and which, for handiness and getting quick sight upon the object 
aimed at, I think cannot be excelled ; in fact, you may call it a one-handed gun. 

" With regard to its killing powers I cannot find any perceptible difference up to 40 yards. 
I have just tried it at the target at 40 yards, and the shooting has not gone off to any extent, 
considering the wear it has had. The right barrel averages 150, and the left 170, the shots 
striking very hard. 

" F. Lythall " (in the County Gentleman). 

" My 12-bore, by W. W. Greener, has 25-inch barrels, weighs a small fraction over 5I lbs., 
and is as handy and well-balanced as a gun can be. Both barrels are ' full-choked,' and were 
regulated for No. 5 shot. The load I use is 42 grains of Schultze, i card wad, i pink edge, 
I soft thick felt, i^ oz. of No. 5 hard shot, i card wad on top. With this load the average 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Powers. 379 

(both barrels) is 200 at 40 yards, 150 at 50, and 100 at 60 yards. The patterns are always 
beautifully even, but at 40 yards a little close in the centre. The best shot I ever got with it at 
60 yards was a pattern of 116 pellets, with a penetration of 28 sheets Pettitt's pads. ... I 
have frequently killed both birds and pheasants up to 70 and 75 stepped yards. Your corre- 
spondent, Mr. F. Lythall, is perfectly right in everything he says as to short barrels, and the 
rapidity with which they may be aligned as compared with the conventional 30-inch. I could 
as well carry a long 7 lb. or 7^ lb. gun now as I could thirty years ago, but, as I can find no 
tittle of advantage in doing so, I much prefer to only load myself with a short, light, small-bore, 
with which all the ordinary work of a season is just as well done. 

"One who has Fired 20,000 Shots at Marks." 

THE sportswoman's GUN. 

The gun for use by sportswomen should be purposely constructed ; not only 
must the stock be differently shaped and of very different measures to the ordinary 
gun, but the barrels will require modification if the best possible results are to be 

There are some sportswomen who can shoot well with almost any gun, just as 
there are men who use guns of divers bends and weights indifferently, but to most 
ladies the question of recoil is an important one. The author, having had more 
experience in the building of guns for ladies' use than perhaps any other English 
gun-maker, can confidently assert that the gun possessing the essentials he is about 
to enumerate will prove more effectual than the light small-bore guns usually 

The bore 12, the barrels 27 inches long, the weight 5f lbs., making with 
the right barrel a killing circle of 30 inches at 30 yards, with the left a similar 
pattern at 35 yards ; the charges to be used being in the right 2f drams of black or 
36 grains of " Schultze " powder, or equivalent charge of other suitable smokeless 
powder, and i oz. of No. 7 shot, and in the left barely 3 drams by measure of 
black or 40 grains of "Schultze" powder, and i\ oz. of No. 6 shot. The stock 
to be suitably shaped, well bent, and well cast off; the gun to be perfectly 
balanced ; and not butt-heavy. A 1 2-bore gun cannot be made satisfactorily to 
weigh less than 5I lbs. ; if a lighter gun be required a more serviceable weapon 
will be obtained by choosing a smaller bore, viz. 16 or even 20. 


This is the most powerful variety of the 1 2-bore gun ; it must be so built as to 
meet the rules of the chief clubs; in England the bore must not be larger than 12, 
nor the gun heavier than 8 lbs. ; the charge to be used must not exceed 4 drams 
of powder and i^ ounce of shot. On the Continent and in America lo-bores are 
allowed, but there is usually some restriction as to charge. The pigeon-gun may be 

380 The Gun and its Development. 

made with hammers or hammerless, preferably the latter. It should not have a 
trigger-bolting safety ; and an automatic trigger safety for this species of gun is the 
greatest mistake that can be made. 

The shooting required will in some measure depend upon the distance at which 
the user is generally placed, it being required to have the largest possible killing 
circle at one yard beyond the trap with the first barrel, and at five yards with the 
second. In no class of gun is uniformity and regularity of shooting more essential 
than in the trap-gun. The weight may be from \ to | of a pound greater than in the 
gun carried for game-shooting, but it is important that the balance be perfect. 

An ideal pigeon-gun will balance at about 3 inches from the breech, weigh only 
7|- lbs., and fire the full charge of shot (i^ ounce) with the greatest uniformity; the 
gun will be hammerless without any safety bolt ; it must have a strong breech-action 
and be fitted with the Greener cross-bolt. It is usual for the barrels to be 
chambered for the 2|-inch case, and the gun is heavy enough to fire even 50 or 
more grains of Schultze without excessive recoil, but trap-shooters are now 
finding it advantageous to use smaller charges than has hitherto been the practice, 
so 3-inch chambers are rarely demanded, although 2|-inch is a length in considerable 
request. Many shots prefer that the gun shoot six or more inches above the mark 
at 40 yards, and good marksmen require that the gun shoot well that is, very close 
in the centre of the 30-inch circle. Other shots, standing nearer the traps, do not 
require extra elevation, and wish to avail themselves of the largest possible killing 
circle which can be obtained at 30 yards, or such distance as will serve them best 
according to the number of yards' rise at which they are most frequently handi- 
capped. With i^ ounce of shot this killing circle is about 30 inches in diameter, 
and means a close shooting gun, even for a choke-bore. If at 40 yards the killing 
circle will not greatly exceed 30 inches, and 250 is a good average pattern for a full- 
choke pigeon gun. 

In choosing a trap-gun it must be remembered that the gun is required to shoot 
its best at, or just beyond, the trap ; for the bird must be shot quickly, and the 
nearer it is grassed the safer. Uniformity of shooting is of still greater importance, 
and this quality can be obtained only by great care in the fine boring and choking 
of the barrel ; a gun that makes an occasional bad shot would allow of the pigeon 
escaping, however true the aim ; therefore the pigeon-shooter's gun should never 
shoot wildly, but be always good alike. Some particulars of the shooting of special 
pigeon guns are given in the chapter on "Trap Shooting"; here it will only be 
needful to say that, as some trap shooters may doubt absolute regularity of shooting 
being within the range of possibility, the records made by notable trap shots prove 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Pouters. 381 

entirely what the author has advanced. A notable case was that in the series of 
matches between Captain Brewer and Mr. Fulford, when one of the author's guns 
was used, and with it the score was 199 out of 200 birds shot at, the 200th bird 
falling dead out of bounds. 

The highest patterns the author has obtained with " original E.G." and Schultze 
gunpowders; using 47 grains and i|- oz. No 6, 270 to the ounce, with iif calibre 
wads, it is not unusual to get patterns averaging 270 in the 30-inch circle at 40 yards, 
and average patterns as high as 280 are sometimes obtained. It must not be for 
gotten that there is a slight variation in all nitro-explosives, so that with them a gun 
will rarely shoot quite the same, even when using the same loads. If the charge of 
powder be increased the pattern will decrease, but in a good pigeon gun as much as 
52 grains of either of the nitro-explosives above mentioned may be employed with- 
out the pattern being materially lowered. The high patterns are obtained with the 
I if calibre wad over powder in some guns, in others the Swedish cup wad gives 
the highest pattern. For 25 yards' rise, if a larger killing circle be required the best 
way is to increase the load of shot beyond i\ oz., if the rules permit ; if not, smaller 
sized shot may be used. A good pigeon gun with No. 8 shot will make an average 
pattern of 375 pellets, all well distributed. For shooters placed at 32 yards' rise 
No. 5 shot in the second barrel will be found advantageous : the velocity is higher, 
though the killing circle is smaller. With No. 5 shot the gun should give an average 
pattern of about 200, if the full load of i;^ oz. is used and the shot is 218 pellets 
to the ounce. 

The Swedish " Cup " wad, above mentioned and elsewhere described, is useful 
for small loads in guns specially regulated for heavy charges, as are pigeon guns. 
For instance, the author obtained with one of his pigeon guns, and 3 drams and ig^ oz., 
an average pattern on a first trial of 226 pellets in the 30-inch circle at 40 yards . 
the second trial gave an average of 223 ; the third, one of 230. With 42 grains of 
Schultze gunpowder the average was 243; on a second trial, 248; with 40 grains, 232. 
An average of 246 was obtained with 42 grains of " E.C. No. 2 " powder. Using 
both black and nitro-explosives, 42 shots from one barrel gave an average pattern of 
236. This gun, with 3^ drams of black gunpowder and i^ oz. No. 6 shot, using also 
48 grains of Schultze and " E.C. No. 2," the powders indiscriminately through the 
series of 30 shots from one barrel gave an average pattern of 262 for the whole series. 

The best scores made with special pigeon guns will be found in the chapter on 
"Trap Shooting." Three noteworthy instances of one hundred birds without a 
miss in public matches are the scores of Messrs. Brewer, Elliott, and Fulford, all of 
whom accomplished this feat with guns made by the author. 

382 The Gun and its Development. 

the best load for a pigeon gun, 

The two essentials are pattern and penetration. Care must be taken not to 
overload with powder, and long experience has proved that 47 grains of Schultze or 
other suitable powder gives the best pattern. An increase in the powder charge of 5 
grains 52 grains being at one time a favourite pigeon load actually reduces the 
pattern and shows but little improvement in penetration. Shooters do not attach 
sufficient importance to the size of shot used ; the many variations in the sizes of 
diffisrent makers cause much confusion, and it should be clearly understood that, in 
England at least, No. 6 of 270 to the ounce is the acknowledged standard. There 
are other sizes described as No. 6 in England, viz.: London size, counting 285 to 
the ounce, and 6*, counting 300 to the ounce; while Continental and American sizes 
of the same number range in count from 69 to 328 pellets to the ounce. It will 
be readily seen that such irregularities create difficulties between the gun-maker and 
his customer, unless the standard size be clearly understood ; quite recently a 
customer abroad complained that his gun did not make the pattern he required 
and which he stated his old gun did. He required a pattern of 340 with No. 6 at 
33 yards; the gun as shot in England averaged 260 with a load of 338 pellets or li 
oz. of No. 6 shot at 40 yards. It was obviously impossible to obtain the pattern 
demanded with such a load, but a request for a sample of the customer's own shot 
resulted in the discovery that it counted 405 to the ik oz., with which patterns 
averaging 320 at 40 yards were easily obtained. It should be noted that in this 
instance the addition of 67 pellets to the load resulted in an improvement of 60 
pellets on the target. 

To obtain uniform results it is absolutely essential that the shot be counted into 
the cartridge case, and the sportsman's attention is directed to the shot-counting 
trowel described and illustrated on page 601. 

If such a method be impossible, the correct weight and count should be 
ascertained, and the measure carefully adjusted to accommodate such load, the 
shot being carefully struck off for each charge. 

Tables of shot sizes are given on page 612, and sportsmen abroad are advised to 
order small quantities of shot to be sent out with their guns if they wish to test the 
shooting accurately, and coinpare the patterns with those given by the maker. 

The question, *' Which is the best nitro ? " is often asked,"and the multiplicity of 
powders from which a selection may be made has not tended to make it easier to 
reply. Most are equally unstable ; from the same batch of powder one may get a 
falling-ofif of from 80 to 100 pellets in the pattern, while pressures may rise from a 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Foivers. 383 

normal 2^ or 3 tons to 
5 tons, which, as shown 
by a recent report in 
the Field^ is capable of 
producing a disastrous 
burst. The illustration, 
reproduced by permis- 
sion of the Editor of the 
Field, was, so far as could 
be ascertained, caused 
by cartridges exerting a 
pressure "in the neigh- 
bourhood of 4 tons," 
and it is no uncommon 
thing for the author to 
find ordinary nitros ex- 
erting pressure of from 
4 to 5 tons. The reader's 
attention is directed to 
the paragraph on page 
564, which, although 
written some years ago, 
in spite of the much- 
vaunted improvements 
in modern smokeless 
powder, still holds good. 
Unfortunately, foreign 
powders are still worse, 
and many strong, well- 
made guns are burst by 
the excessive pressures 
exerted by such powders. 
Another point to be 
noted when testing a 
gun at the target : at 
the Field and other 
public trials the range 

384 The Gun and its Development. 

has always been measured as 40 yards from the butt of the gun ; a rough-and- 
ready way is for the shooter to step this distance ; but it will be found that few men 
can correctly step a yard, and, although this may appear a simple matter, a yard 
nearer the target is sufficient, with some guns, to cause a difference of 5 pellets in 
the pattern with a li-oz. load, so that if one man steps two yards short of the 
distance, and another two yards over, the difference between the results obtained 
by these two shooters would be about 20 pellets in the 30-inch circle. 


Experience proves that 3-inch 12-bore cartridges do not give such good results 
as the 2|-inch, and it is a decided mistake to make a gun with 28-inch barrels with 
3-inch chambers for large charges of powder. The extra length in the case tends 
to encourage overloading, and no appreciable advantage is obtained. The slight 
increase in velocity does not compensate for the reduction in pattern, and most of 
the best pigeon-shooting guns are made with 2|-inch chambers. It is exceedingly 
dangerous to use a 3-inch cartridge in a gun chambered for the 2i-inch case, the 
pressure in such circumstances rising to 5 tons or over, according to the powder 


Small Bores. 

The 28-BORE should have 25- or 27-inch barrels, which will require but little 
choking, and average : 


30- inch 








at impact. 

1 3 dram 

\ oz. No. 8 





32 grs. Schultze 

1 oz. No. 6 





\\ dram 

1 oz. No. 6 





* Overloaded. This charg 

;e has been too fi 

-equently used ; 26 g 

rains does better. 

The weight should not be less than 4, nor more than 4f lbs. Recoil 60 lbs. 
The 28-bore must not be loaded with i oz. of shot, as is too often done. This 
calibre especially is too frequently much overloaded. The 28-bore must be used 
with brass cases if the full capability of this calibre is desired. 

The 24-BORE is but little used ; it comes about midway in pattern, penetration, 
recoil, etc., between the 28- and 20-bore. 

The 20-BORE is the smallest bore usually sought by the general sportsman ; a 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting jPoivers. 


gun of 5^ lbs. weight, and with 28-inch barrels, may be taken as representing fairly 
the 20-calibre class, and it should average 



30-inch circle. 

Penetration of 


Force at 

of powder. 

Oz. of 




I No. 8 






I No. 6 






|No. 6 






|No. s 






|No. I 





32 grs. 

I No. 6 




2 'CO 




I No. 6 






I No. 5 





Weight not less than 5 nor more than 6 lbs. 

The 16-BORE FULL-CHOKE, with barrels 30 inches in length, and the gun 
weighing (i\ lbs., should average 




Penetration of 


of powder. 

Oz. of 


30-inch circle. 





I No. 5 






I No. 6 




I 35 


I No. 5 






r No. 6 






I No. 6 






I No. 5 






I No. I 








I No. 6 



' 635 



I No. 5 






I No. I 




1 52 

Weight from 5I to 6i lbs. 


The Gun and its Development. 


Standard Gauge. 

The best all-round gun for sporting purposes is the 12-bore with 30-inch barrels^ 
weighing about 7 lbs., providing the sportsman can carry and handle a weapon of 
this weight. 

Twelve-bores much under 7 lbs. will not shoot a heavier charge than 3^ drams 
and i|^ oz. with comfort to the shooter. If 7^ lbs., 3^^ drams and i j oz. If 7^ lbs., 
the charge may be 3^ drams and i^ oz. ; over 7^ lbs., guns are usually built for 
extra long cartridge-cases and special charges. 

For the shooting of 12-bore guns with large charges see under the heading,. 
"Pigeon Guns." The shooting of 10, 8, 4, and other large-gauge guns is given under 
the heading " Duck Guns." Light guns and guns with short barrels will shoot 3 drams 
and i|- ounce of shot, and an average pattern of 200 with No. 6 shot may be obtained. 

The usual full-choked 12-calibre gun, with 30-inch barrels and weighing 7 lbs.,, 
should average 






Force at 

of Powder 

Oz, of 
. shot. 

Square | 30-in. 
lo-in. centre.; ciicle. 





li No. 8 

92 320 





\\ No. 6 

55 215 



I 80 


li No. 6 

51 210 





\\ No. 6 

39 2CO 





\\ No. 6 

58 240 





li No. 5 

35 175 



I 89 


\\ No. 5 

45 ! 190 





li No. 4 

40 j 160 





\\ No. 3 

38 135 





\\ No. I 

35 105 





11 No. I 

33 1 100 






\\ No. 6 







\\ No. 6 







I* No. 5 





I "47 


\\ No. 4 







\\ No. I 







In addition to the reduction of the bore by " choking," as already described, 
attempts have been made at different times to give a greatly enlarged powder 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Foivers. 387 

chamber ta the shot-gun, just as in cannon and in some rifles. The latest serious 
production in this direction is the so-called " vena contractu " barrel, which consists 
of a 20-calibre barrel enlarged at its breech end sufficiently to allow of being 
chambered for the 12-gauge case. The advantages claimed for this barrel include 
better balance, but if a gun be required very light forward it is more advantageous to 
use a shorter barrel of 12-bore. The 12-bore charge is not fired to best advantage 
from a 20-bore barrel ; and in the " vena contractu " there is increased strain on the 
barrel at the breech-end, greater compression of the shot, and the killing circle, 
instead of being that of a 12-bore, is that of a 20 only. 


Guns of 24- and 32-bore are but rarely used in this country, where they would 
be of but little utility, and may be dismissed with the merest mention ; they are 
mostly exported to the Brazilian and Argentine markets, and together with the 
410-bore are principally used by naturalists, or for such weapons as walking- 
stick guns. The 28-bore is the smallest calibre of any practical use as a game gun. 

For guns of 2 -bore see " Duck Guns " ; a 6-bore muzzle-loader was shot at the 
Chicago trials, and its performance is recorded in the report. 


The miniature gun is much to be preferred to the single gun, a species of shot- 
gun quickly falling into disuse. The double is now constructed so light that a 
single gun, if made lighter, would recoil unbearably. It is for duck guns and 
large-bore rifles that the single barrel is now mostly used. Two heavy barrels 
of 4-bore, side by side, are more than the hand can firmly grasp, so many shooters 
adhere to single guns for wild-fowling, preferring to lose the chances of a second 
shot than possess only an imperfect command of the gun. 


A special gun is preferable if the best results are to be obtained with large shot 
of three, four, or five to the layer, and such guns of 12-bore, if correctly con- 
structed, will shoot at long ranges with such force and accuracy that they may 
with advantage be substituted for rifles for small deer shooting. 

The following letter, which appeared in the Field on February r5th, 1887, will 

convey an idea of the nature and power of a true buckshot gun : 

"Mr. W. W. Greener sent me a No. 12 hammerless gun 30 in. barrels, weight 7! lbs. 
which I received last June. It has more than met my most sanguine expectations, and fully 
verified my opinion, not only shooting buckshot with the possibility of killing a deer from 
100 to 150 yards, but also proving a remarkable shooter with small shot. 


The Gun and its Development. 

" During the past summer I only got shots at six deer, killing each shot. The longest shot 
was 91 yards, the deer being struck with three shot, one breaking the back, and the other two just 
below. I shot too high, the deer being in the act of leaping high, and the remaining six shots 
passed into a gum-tree above the height of the deer. 

"In a number of trials at a 30-in. circle, from 100 to 150 yards, not a shot was fired that 
would not have killed a deer. At the distance of 150 yards a shot made by Dr. Hargrove, of 
Knox Point Post-office, three shots would have entered the side of a deer. 

" A number of shots were fired by John A. Skannall, Money Brian, and George Conway. 
These gentlemen are among our most eminent planters, and distinguished for their fine 
shooting. At 100 yards from five to six shots were put in the target out of a possible nine at 
every discharge. At 125 yards never less than four shots would have entered the side of a deer. 

" Last week, while hunting partridges, I inserted a shell loaded with buckshot, and gave it 
to Mr. Tom Barrett, a lawyer of Shreveport, to shoot at a sparrow-hawk. He killed it at 
the distance of go yards- 

"At a trial made in Shreveport a number of distinguished gentlemen attended. They were 
sceptical as to the long range of this gun, and would not believe, unless they measured the 
distance and shot the gun. They brought a tape line and measured 125 yards. Among them 
were Hon. A. C. Blanchard, member of Congress from the Fourth District of Louisiana ; 
his law partner, Alexander ; and Capt. Smith, superintendent of the Fair Grounds. They 
themselves shot my gun with results similar to what I have above stated, putting from two to 
three shots in less than 3 in. of the centre of a 30-in. circle at every discharge. I give the names 
of these gentlemen, with post-office addresses, so that, should anyone doubt my statement, they 
could be referred to. I would also add the names of Capt. Ike Dyer and Capt. Jas. Y. Webb, 
of Minden, La., who were the first to test the qualities of this gun after I received it. 

"It is a very great advantage to have a breech-loader doing such extraordinary shooting 
with buckshot, and at the same time proving a very fine gun with small shot. 

" I have no doubt that W. W. Greener, of St. Mary's Square, Birmingham, England, could 
duplicate this gun for anyone who may desire to get the best deer gun which has been 
manufactured during this century. 

"Not long since, in the presence of a number of cadets of the Thatcher Military Institute, 
of Shreveport, I fired with buckshot at a 3-in. circle, 90 yards distant, and struck it with three 
shots, one grazing the centre. A deer would have been struck with eight of the possible 
nine shots. 

" Geo. D. Alex.^nder." 

Guns specially bored by the author for shooting buckshot are tested at 

40 yards, and will place eight out of the nine 
pellets forming the charge in a 30-inch circle at 
this range. 

In selecting buckshot, care should be taken to 
see that it lies in even layers in the muzzle of the 
gun. The illustration shows nine and three pellets 
of A. A. A. and S.S.G. shot respectively as they 
should fit the muzzle of a 12-gauge choke-bore 
gun. If any difficulty is experienced in procuring buckshot of the correct size, 

How Buckshot should fit the Muzzle 
of a Gun. 





The Gun and its Development. 

bullet moulds can be supplied to cast nine or twelve pellets at a time, 
guns can, of course, be used with shot of smaller sizes. 



It is well known that the ordinary double-barrelled cylinder shot-gun will shoot 
spherical bullets with fair accuracy up to fifty yards. 

The recoil felt by firing a light 12-bore gun with a spherical bullet is very 
considerable ; as a matter of fact, the recoil is 13 lbs. heavier with a bullet and 
standard charge of powder than with the standard charge of shot. 

A lighter bullet was, therefore, a desideratum, and the "Mead" shell was 
produced. This consists simply of a hollow spherical core cast in the spherical 
bullet ; it is shown in the illustration below. The hollow core may be filled 
with an explosive if deemed advisable, and a large charge of powder may be used, 
and a higher velocity and lower trajectory is obtained than can be got from a 

The " Mead " Shell. 
3 A- 

^mm mma 

Macleod's Revolving Bullet (Actual Size). 

spherical bullet of the same size with a shot-gun. The ordinary game shot-gun 
will not shoot bullets so well as a properly built ball-gun (not rifled) ; but the 
accuracy is such that all bullets may be got into a 12-inch circle at forty yards 
by a good marksman. The charge should not be more than 2| drams of No. 4 or 
No. 6 grained powder. 

For use in shot-guns, special projectiles have been invented which shall fly 
better than the ordinary spherical ball ; some of these have projecting wings wound 
spirally round the bullet, but the best known are the invention of Dr. Macleod. 

In the first model holes are cast in the bullet, and it is asserted that it will be 
revolved by the air rushing through the eccentric holes as the bullet takes its flight, 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Powers. 391 

This heavy bullet a 12 -bore, weighs f oz., and is i^ inch in length must not 
be used in a light gun, and even in a gun of 8 lbs. weight will require an india- 
rubber wad half an inch in thickness to be placed over the powder before the bullet 
can be fired without occasioning a painful recoil. 

In the last model the loose revolving rudder affixed to the projectile is said 
to steer it a more sure course. It is open to many of the objections advanced 
against the first model. 

In the illustration No. i is a longitudinal view of the bullet, and shows the exact 
size and direction of the perforations. No. 2 is a section showing the hollow base. 
No. 3 is an end elevation of the point, and No. 4 of the base. 

The inherent fault of this principle of producing rotation is that the rotation is 
obtained at the cost of velocity; the air resistance necessary to rotate the projectile 
retards it to such an extent as to impair its utility for all sporting purposes. It 
is recorded that a sportsman using a Macleod bullet fired at an Indian bison ; the 
bullet struck in the centre of the forehead, but did not penetrate even the thick 
skin, and but for the timely help of his companions the shooter would have lost his 
life. The greater the muzzle velocity, the greater the speed of rotation ; hence the 
higher fractional resistance and speedy retardation of the bullet. 

Gun barrels, when choke-bored, may also be rifled for a itw inches at the 
muzzle, as in the " Murphy " and the " Paradox " guns ; and these weapons, 
although they will not shoot shot as closely and regularly as a true choke-bore, 
nevertheless perform up to the average, and are accurate with bullets at short 
ranges. Weapons of this nature should be considered rather as rifles specially 
constructed for shot than as shot-guns for ball. The Government Proof-House 
Regulations require that such weapons be proved as rifles that is to say, tested 
with ball. Fuller particulars are given in the chapter on " Rifles." 

Choke-bore guns may be used as ball-guns, providing that the bullet to be fired 
will pass easily through the muzzle, and it may be interesting to sportsmen to know 
that choke-bore guns shoot ball quite as well as guns bored ordinary cylinders. 
Especially is this of interest to those who use but one gun, and have often the 
chance of a shot or two at big game. Gunmakers and sportsmen alike have been 
misled by the proof marks ; on all choke-bores " Not for ball " was formerly marked. 

Another point to be noticed is, that if one barrel be modified choke or 
cylinder, // is only necessary to use the one-sized ball, the larger bored barrel shooting to 
all intents and purposes as well as the smaller barrel for which the ball is moulded. 

Any gun which is safe to use with shot would be quite as safe with ball, 
provided that ordinary care be taken to see that the ball be not larger than 

392 The Gun and its Development. 

the smallest part of the barrel, and the charge of powder does not exceed the 
ordinary one used with shot. Further, the ring wads are not at all necessary ; 
one card and one thick felt over the powder, the ball being fixed in either by 
an ordinary turnover or crimper, will give all that is needed. Neither wad nor 
PATCH OVER THE BALL, Or the gun-barrel may be burst. 

The adjoined diagram was made by a full-choke-bored light game gun, charged 
with 2| drams powder, bullet 14-bore, and 12-gauge case, distance 40 yards. 


Guns of the largest calibre which can be fired from the shoulder are usually 
made single barrel and of 4-bore, the average diameter being i"o52 inch. There is 
a 2-bore paper case made by Messrs. Eley Brothers, Limited, but the calibre is 
practically that of the 4-bore thin brass case gun. The cases do not hold a larger 
charge, nor do the guns shoot better, if so well, and the cartridge-case has not the 
advantage of being so perfectly water and damp proof as that of brass ; therefore, 
the 4-bore gun for brass cases is that recommended. 

These large guns are made in four styles of breech-loading, the mechanisms 
being first, the cheapest, with double-grip lever under guard, back-work lock, and 
outside hammers ; second, the treble-wedge-fast, with top cross-bolt, top lever, bar 
lock, and outside hammers ; third, the treble-wedge-fast top cross-bolt, hammerless 
mechanism ; fourth, similar breech mechanism, but with the addition of self-eject- 
ing lock work. The gun should weigh from 15 lbs. to 18 lbs., the barrels being 
42 in. to 46 in. in length, as fully choked as possible to obtain the best results with 
charges varying from nine to ten drams of powder and 3^ to 3I ounces of shot. 

Strong serviceable guns, with first-class shooting, can be had with the cheapest 
form of breech-actions for twenty-five guineas, and with the hammerless ejector 
from forty-five guineas. 

Single 8-bores are made with the same styles of breech-actions as described 
above. The barrels are made 36 in. in length, and the guns weigh from 10 lbs. 
to 15 lbs., and the prices range from sixteen guineas, according to the breech- 
action used. 

The double 8-bore is recognised as the standard wild-fowling gun. The gun is 
made in three distinct varieties the " Magnum," weight 15 lbs., barrels 36 inches 
long, chambered for the 3f in. " Perfect " thin brass case. This gun fires a charge 
of 7 drams of powder and 2| to 3 ozs. of shot. This gun is best suited for boat 
work, shooting from a hut, a " sink," or screen, as it is too heavy to carry a long 
distance. It is the best shooting gun, giving 90 to 100 pellets of No. i shot in a 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Powers. 


i2-in. square at 40 yards, and an average of four pellets to the square foot on a 
four foot target at 100 yards. 

The "Medium" 8-bore has 34-in. barrels, weight about 13 lbs., and shoots 
almost as well as the "Magnum" with 6 drams of powder and 2I to 2| ozs. of 
No. I shot. This gives an average pattern of from 80 to 90 pellets in the 12-in. 
square at 40 yards. 

The "Light" 8-bore has 30-in. or 32-in. barrels, weighs 11 lbs. to 12 lbs., 
and should be chambered for the 3^-in. " Perfect " thin brass case. The charge 
used is 6 drams of powder and 2\ to 2| ozs. of No. i shot, with which the pattern 
in the 12-in. square at 40 yards will average 85 pellets. 

Brass cartridge-cases, especially the thin brass cases called " Perfects," offer 
many advantages for use in these large-bore guns. The cartridges, on account of 
the large charges used, are necessarily cumbrous, but with brass cases there is more 
room for a larger charge in the same length case as the paper ; escape of gas is with 
them an impossibility ; they therefore shoot much stronger, and they will not jamb 
in the chambers, thus avoiding the chagrin caused by a tight shell and the loss of a 
second shot. Neither do changes of the atmosphere affect them. In double guns 
the jar caused by firing the first barrel is apt to shake out or loosen the wad in the 
second barrel, but this may be prevented by using an indented case, or closing in 
with a patent crimper specially made for these brass cases. '^See page 606.) 

With an 8-bore gun, fired with- 6 J drams of black powder, No. 4, or the equiva- 
lent of Schultze, and 2 ozs. of shot, the velocities will average as under : 




Velocity obtained at 

60 Yds. 

7a Yds, 

80 Yds. 

No. I 
,, 2 
.. 3 
'. 4 
., 5 




Undoubtedly the best all-round gun for shore shooting is a double 8-bore of 
eleven to twelve pounds weight and full-choked, bored for brass cases ; this gun 
with No. I shot will have sufficient power to kill ducks at 150 yards, but its 
available range is practically 80 to 100 yards; at longer distances the pattern is too 

N * 

394 The Gun and its Development. 

open, and there is great difficulty in hitting the bird. With 25 ozs. No. 4 shot at 
40 yards, the pattern should average 300 and the penetration be equal to 34 sheets 
of strawboard ; with No. i shot, pattern 220, penetration 40 sheets; at 60 yards 
the penetration of No. i shot 34 sheets, at 80 yards 24 sheets, at 100 yards 16 
sheets. The penetration of seven sheets is sufficient to kill a duck. Patterns, with 
same charge, at 60 yards, 130 pellets; at 80 yards, 50; at 100 yards, 18 pellets, 
all in 30-in, circle. 

With paper cases, 5 drams and 25 ozs. of No. i shot has given a pattern of 
175 pellets at 40 yards; same charge and conditions, but brass cases, the pattern 
was 225. 

This is sufficient to prove the great benefit the shooting powers of the gun derive, 
when properly bored, from brass cartridge-cases. 

The following results are extracted from Land and Water of February, 1894, 
and is a condensed report of experiments made by " Fleur de Lys" with a W. W. 
Greener, 8-calibre 36-inch double-barrelled gun of 15 lbs., chambered for 3-inch 
brass " Perfect " cases. 

With 6i drs. No. 4 Alliance powder, 2| ozs. No. i shot, the average pattern 
on a target 4 feet by 3 feet at 100 yards was 40 pellets = 3*3 to the square foot; 
with 7 drs. and 3 ozs. No. i, average 54 = 4 pellets to the square foot; with 6| drs. 
and 2 1 ozs. No. 4 shot, at 80 yards, 127 on target, or 10 pellets to the square 
foot ; with 7 drs. and 3 ozs. No. 4 shot, in 30-inch circle at 80 yards, an average of 
57 pellets, or \\\ to the square foot; with 6 drs. and 2f ozs. No. i shot, at 80 
yards, in the 30-inch circle, an average of 53 pellets, or io| to the square foot; 
with 6 drs. and 2% ozs. No. i shot, at 80 yards, in the 30-inch circle, an average 
of 48 pellets, or 9I to the square foot; with 6 drs. and 2f ozs. No. i shot, at 
60 yards, in the 30-inch circle, an average of 130 pellets; .with 6 drs. and 2\ ozs. 
No. I shot, at 40 yards, 90 to 97 pellets in a selected 12-inch square; with 7 drs. 
and 3 ozs. No. i, about 100 pellets in the 12-inch square. 

With brass cases, and 7 drs. and 2! ozs. No. i shot, the pellets in the 30-in. 
circle averaged 224; average in centre 12-in. square, 90 pellets. Upon reference 
to the annexed diagram, which is a facsimile of a shot from one of the author's 
4-bore guns, it will be seen that the pattern is sufficiently close for any purpose. 

A 4-bore, at 40 yards, with 11 drs. and 32 ozs. No. i shot, will average a 
pattern of 245, penetration 46 sheets; at 60 yards, pattern 150, penetration 34 
sheets; at 80 yards, pattern 65, penetration 24 sheets; at 100 yards, pattern 23, 
penetration 16 sheets. With 12 drs. and 3 ozs. of B shot (80 to the oz.) a pattern 
at 40 yards of 230, penetration 54 sheets. The 30-in. circle, from which the above 

Diagram made by Greener's "Wild-fowling" Gun, 4-bore, No. i Shot. 

396 The Gun and its Development. 

patterns are taken, gives but an inadequate idea of the shooting of these large guns. 
It may be taken from one at least 50 in. in diameter, as the killing circle is so very 
much larger than that of 10- and 12-bore guns. 

The only advantage of the 4-bore is that it shoots a larger charge of shot than 
the 8-bore, thus giving a wider killing circle. With the large shot A A, B, &c., it 
also performs better than the 8-bore, and it has the advantage of throwing the 
pellets well to the centre, as the diagram figure illustrates. The closest pattern 
yet obtained by the author at 40 yards with 3I ozs. shot was 125 pellets on a centre 
12-in. square. An 8-bore, with 2\ ozs., same distance, put 90 pellets on the 12-in. 


The advantages which result from using suitable nitro-explosives in 8-calibre 
guns are less smoke and less recoil, which are of great importance in these large- 
bore guns, but the shooting is rarely quite so good as with black powder. As the 
weight of the gun can be reduced if the recoil be not too heavy, it is possible to 
build double 8-bore guns from i| lb. to 2 lb. lighter, "Magnum" calibre, and 
intended solely for use with nitro-explosives. The light 8-bore may also be 
made lighter if required for the nitro-explosive only. 


The author has always contended that these large-bore " wnld-fowling " guns had 
a killing range of 100 yards if properly constructed and rightly loaded. It has been 
urged upon him again and again that the 100-yard limit could be exceeded, but it 
is doubtful whether the killing of large birds beyond that range is not more often 
the result of lucky chance than within the capability of an ordinary gun. " Fleur 
de Lys," who possibly takes an extreme view of the range of the guns he so enthusi- 
astically advocates, puts the killing range of the double 8-bore at 80 yards, but it 
must be remembered that he has had greater experience than has fallen to the lot 
of most people who have written on the subject. With the following opinion of 
" Fleur de Lys," in a letter to Land and Water, the author wholly agrees : 

"T am of opinion that with No. i shot a good 8-bore (equal in shooting powers to the 
Greener used in my trials), if held straight, is certain of a duck at 80 yards ; that is to say, I 
think ten or eleven would be bagged out of twelve shots. With the gun in question, at 80 yards, 
a flying duck would receive, on an average, three to four pellets of No. i shot, and a sitting 
duck two to three pellets." 

Several well-known wild-fowlers have published some interesting opinions with 
reference to the range at which game may be shot with large-bore guns. The 

Varieties of Shot-guns and their Shooting Powers. ic)i 

following extracts from letters to the Field will prove what is believed to be the 
greatest killing range and the value of the various calibres : 

Extract from a Letter written by Mr. A. G. Passingham in the " Fieid," 

February 2nd, 1895. 

" As there is just now some controversy respecting the merits or demerits ot 8-, 10- and 
i2-bore guns for wild-fowhng, I think it may interest some of your readers if I mention four con- 
secutive shots I made last week with a double 8-bore by Greener. 

"Three of these shots were over 100 yards, and the other and last shot, 85 yards. The 
longest shot was 151 yards (measured, not stepped), at a flock of about 30 widgeon standing in some 
shallow water. One bird was killed; two No. i shot went right through the bird, in at the back 
and out at the breast. The next longest shot was no yards at two ducks, both killed. The 
next at a flock of teal, the two aimed at killed. The last shot at three ducks, crossing low down 
85 yards, one shot dead, another fell into the sea 400 yards off. (The charges used were 
6 drams of black gunpowder and 2 j ounces of No. i shot ; the same load of shot, and charges 
of 75 grains and 84 grains of Schultze.) 

" I think a lo-bore is better than 12-bore, and a double 8 is the best of all shoulder guns for 

Extract from the ^'- Field" Jajiuary 26th, 1895. 

"Mr. Chapman, in his interesting articles on ' Wild-fowling,' is, I think, unduly prejudiced 
against 4-bore and double 8-bore guns. The idea of 4-bores recoiling to such an extent as to 
capsize a single-handed punt is absurd. I have fired a good many shots from 4-bores, but never 
felt any unpleasant recoil, using 10 drams and 3^ ounces of shot. As to double 8-bores, I 
maintain they are far more useful than lo-bores ; they are handy, and much more powerful than 
the lo-bore. I have one of Greener's double 8-bores that is as handy a gun as one need wish to 
have, and it is a very powerful gun. I can stop duck and widgeon going down wind when 
flighting at a tremendous pace, and I have shot a snipe with it. 

" G. A. Passingham." 

Extract from Mr. G. A. Passingham^ s Letter. 
" You ask me how the gun handles. I am pleased to say it is simply perfect in this respect, 
and is a most powerful gun by far the best shooting gun I ever had." 

The gun referred to by Mr. Passingham weighs 11^ lbs. only, and has barrels 
of W. W, Greener's " Wrought steel," 32 inches in length and bored for brass 


The charges and shot recommended by " Fleur de Lys " are : 
For duck and widgeon up to 60 yards, No. 4 shot ; beyond 60 yards and up to 
100 yards, No. i or No. 2 shot. " Beyond 100 yards the chances of a successful 
shot are problematical, and, therefore, I believe in big shot : BB for an 8-calibre or 
a 4-calibre, so that if a bird be hit, it receives such a crushing blow that it is killed 
outright or completely crippled, and can be gathered easily." 

398 The Gun and its Development. 

For plover, small waders, etc.. No. 4 shot up to 80 yards ; No. i or No. 2 beyond. 
Never anything bigger at these birds, as they are easily killed. 

With reference to the wadding for 8-bores, it should be noted that an extra 
Field wad, or even two, between the powder and shot may be advantageously 
employed, if, with the usual load the charge does not fill the case to within one 
quarter inch, and the shooting will be improved, as the pattern will show. The 
No. 4 Alliance black powder gives the closest and strongest shooting ; powder of 
larger grain, say No. 6 or No. 7, gives less recoil, and the least recoil is obtained by 
using equivalent bulk charges of the Schultze, or " E.G." nitro-explosives. 


It is only of late years that any breech mechanism other than the double-grip, 
with lever under-guard, as shown in the illustration of the single 4-bore wild-fowling 
gun, has been used in guns of large bore. The new style is hammerless, with cross- 
bolt and top lever, a type the author introduced with success about fifteen years ago. 
This style of single gun is also illustrated. The stock is fitted with Silver's anti-recoil 
heel-plate, and is shown in full, so that an idea may be formed of the relative size 
of the breech-action and other parts of the gun. The breech-end of the barrel, 
showing method of bolting to the breech-action, is shown in the annexed illustration. 

Of the advantages of the hammerless system applied to duck guns it is almost 
needless to speak. Besides its greater speed, safety and strength, the ominous 
click caused by raising the hammer is dispensed with, and many a shot gained 
thereby. Its neater appearance, and the fact of all the mechanism being protected 
from blows and water, are also in its favour ; and they are strongly recommended 
by modern wild-fowlers, who also prefer double guns to single, if not larger than 
8-bore, as they are not necessarily any heavier, and a second barrel is available for 
shooting at the flock when it is well in the air. 


The smaller bore wild-fowl guns are often used with great success in duck 
shooting. It is for this sport that the lo-bore possesses its particular advantage, 
that of shooting large-sized shot with better effect than the 12-bore gun ; the 10- also 
shoots heavier loads better than the 12-bore. The diagram of the shooting of the 
lo-bore here given should be compared with those of the 12-bore particularly that 
on page 356. This lo-bore pattern was made by a double gun, 10 lb. in weight, 
with 4 drams and i^ ounce of No. 6 shot: the highest average pattern at this 
distance 40 yards with this charge is 275 pellets in the 30-inch circle. 

To be really effective lo-bores should not be less than 8| lbs. weight; anything 

400 The Gun and its Development. 

lighter is just as effective if made 12-bore. The following patterns and penetration 
have been obtained from lo-bore guns, and may be considered as exhibiting the 
utmost capabiHty of lo-bores. With 4^ drs. and \\ oz. No. 2 shot, pattern in 30-in. 
circle, .at 40 yards, 160 pellets, penetration 25 sheets strawboard. With same 
charge, but No. i shot, pattern 135, 50 in 12-inch square; a 24-inch circle would 
have contained nearly all the pellets, as well as the 30-inch circle; penetration 31 
sheets strawboard. With same charge, BB shot, a pattern of 88 resulted. 

But these patterns are far more than can be expected from the generality of 
lo-bores. An ordinary full-choke lo-bore, with 4^ drs. and i^ oz. No. 6 shot, will 
average about 250 pellets; with i^ oz. No. 4 shot, about 180; same charge. No i 
shot, about no. At 60 yards, same charge, No, 4 shot, about 75, penetration 18 
sheets ; same charge, No. i shot, about 60 pattern, penetration 26 sheets. 

The old type of lo-bore was 10 lbs. or more in weight, with 32-in. barrels, 
and was used with a charge of 5 drams of powder and \\ oz. of shot : a charge in 
which the quantity of powder is out of proportion with that of the shot used. The 
most generally useful type of lo-bore is that of 8| lbs. to 9^^ lbs. in weight, firing 
either brass or paper cases, and using as the standard charge 4 drams of powder 
and i| to if oz. of No. 4 or larger size shot. Such advantages as the lo-bore 
possesses are obtained from the use of large- size shot ; for use with small shot, 
a 12-bore of i\ lbs. to 8 lbs., and loading i;^- oz. only, the smaller gun is quite its 
equal. lo-bore guns cost jQ\ is. more than 12-bores of the corresponding styles 
and qualities. 

The following record was published in the Field of February 17th, 1894; it was 
obtained by " Fleur de Lys " with a W. W. Greener lo-bore gun chambered for 
3-inch brass cases. 

"At 40 yards range, with a charge of 3I drams of No. 4 black gunpowder and if ounce 
No. I shot, the average pattern with both barrels was 119 pellets in a 30-inch circle ; the average 
pattern of both barrels in a selected 12-inch square, was 47-5 pellets. With 3f drams and 
\\ ounce No. i, the average pattern of both barrels was 112 in the 30-inch circle; in the 
12-inch square 49 pellets; with 4 drams and if ounce of No. i shot, the pattern with both barrels 
averaged 147 pellets, and 55 pellets in a selected 12-inch square; with same charge, but No. 4 
shot, the pattern was 202 in the circle. 

" With Schultze powder, 54 grains and if ounce of No. i shot, the average pattern in a select 
12-inch square was 60 pellets, in the 30-inch circle 152 pellets ; with No. 4 shot an average of 
84 pellets in the 12-inch square and 220 in the 30-inch circle. Brass cases were used." 

The same gun with paper cases, a charge of 54 grains of Schultze and if ounce 

of No. I shot, gave an average pattern of 57 in the 12 -inch square and 141 in the 

circle at 40 yards; with the same charge, but No. 4 shot, 87 in the 12-inch square 

and 223 in the 30-inch circle. 

Diagram of lo-boie Full-choke, with No. 6 Shot, at 40 yards 


The Gun and its Development. 

At 60 yards : 

Brass cases \\ drs. black powder and 2 oz. No. i shot an average pattern of 79 in the 30-in. circle. 
,, ,, 54 grs. Schultze ,, 2 ,, ,, 75 
55 If 76 

Paper cases 54 ,, ,, ,, 2 ,, 

4 drs. black ,, 2 ,, 

52 grs. Schultze ,, ,, li,, 

4 drs. black ,, ,, if,, 


It is apparent that a lo-bore gun should not be loaded with less than \\ ounce 
of shot ; more is preferable if the gun is heavy enough to prevent recoil. 

The following extracts prove what has been done with lo-bore choked guns and 
various charges : 

"My latest trial was with No. 1 4^ drs. i| oz. ; it puts the whole charge into a 2-ft. lo-in. 
circle at fifty yards. The size of shot seems to make no difference as regards diameter of 
pattern. I have tried at hares with No. 4, and have killed them dead at sixty yards, going 
away, which is sufficient for me. I shot three golden plover, consecutive shots, at sixty-five, 
seventy-five, and eighty-one yards, dead. I have purposely tried it at gulls and ducks, which I 
consider pretty tough ; it is a certainty at fifty yards with No. 4. I have shot two out of three 
snipe, with No. 6, at fifty yards. In fact, I consider your gun twenty yards better than any gun 
I ever tried before." 

" I shot ducks with the lo-bore, killing them clean at 80 to 120 yards, using 5 J drams and 
i^ ounce ; for this charge appears to be the most desirable when using No. 4 shot." 

" I have spent a few days at plover-shooting, and find that the gun shoots first-class. I 
killed, with one barrel at forty-five yards, twenty plover; I also killed a single plover at sixty- 
three yards, and two out of three that were flying at eighty yards. I killed three out of a flock 
of about 150 plover at loi yards. The gun suits me in every way." 


The shooting of a 12-bore gun of i\ lbs. to 8 lbs. weight is good enough to 
warrant its classification as a wild-fowlers' weapon. Built specially to obtain the 
best possible results with 3^ to 4 drams of powder and \\ ounce of No. 4 shot, the 
12-bore is indeed an excellent little wild-fowl gun. It should take a 3-inch case, 
or at least 2|-inch, and is then a good all-round weapon, shooting even buckshot 
closely and well. 

" Dear Sir, 

" Since I have had my treble-wedge-fast 12-bore hammerless gun, 28 inches long, 7^ lbs. 
weight, 40-guinea quality, made by you in 1880, I have made many exceptionally long shots in 
duck shooting. In the month of October this fall, however, I made three shots which in justice 
to you are deserving of special mention. On the occasion in question my gun, which is full- 
choked in both barrels, was charged with j,\ drams Curtis and Harvey's No. 4 powder, with 
one felt and two card wads between powder and shot, and ij ounces of No. 2 chilled shot with 
cardboard wad. With the first shot I killed two black ducks crossing on the wing at 75 yards, 
the second a single blue bill (small duck) sitting at 100 yards, and the third a single black duck 
sitting at fully no yards. When the length and weight of my gun, the moderate charge of 

404 The Gun and its Development. 

powder and the large size of the shot used are taken into consideration, I think the three shots 
in question, which were all fired one after the other within an hour, are worthy of ranking as 
extraordinary shots. Since then I have killed another large Velvet duck one out of four 
sitting at fully 90 yards, with the same charge as mentioned above. When my little gun which 
I have named Faugh-a-Ballagh is charged right and held right, it sends the charge right to the 
proper place. .. yours truly, 

" W. P. Lett." 


The best methods of using the muzzle-loading punt gun are given by Colonel 
P. Hawker in his well-known book ; and modern wild-fowling is treated fully by 
Sir R. Payne-Gall wey in "The Wild-Fowler in Ireland," and others. Breech-loading 
punt guns are made upon several systems, some of which will be briefly described ; 
the enthusiastic wild-fowler will turn to the above-mentioned, and other authorities, 
for details of the sport, and for fuller particulars of the weapons used. 

The Snider breech-action is still used ; most wild-fowlers prefer one or other of 
the drop-down mechanisms illustrated here ; but the short modern stock is that 
now generally employed. 

The London punt gun, and Greener's wedge-fast punt gun, as illustrated, have 
been in constant use, and fill every requirement of the sportsman, so far as breech 
and lock mechanism is concerned. 

The punt gun is usually single barrel li-inch bore, and weighs about 100 lbs. 
It should be chambered for the solid drawn brass case, seven inches long, 
taking a charge of three ounces of powder and one and a half pounds of shot. 
These cases may be reloaded many times, being practically indestructible. Smaller 
guns of i;|-inch bore, shooting one and a quarter pounds of shot, are made occa- 
sionally. Recoil breeching of rope is the favourite, as it is the simplest gear for 
taking the recoil. Others in use are the Hawker coil spring, the indiambber 
breeching, or the recoil box of Mr. E. T. Booth, in which indiarubber buft'ers are 
placed. A first-class punt gun, without recoil gear, is worth about ;^8o, and is 
practically everlasting. The barrel may be choked or left cylinder. Double punt 
guns have been made ; they are very heavy and cumbrous, require a larger punt, 
and are not recommended. 

Sportsmen who make wild-fowling their study find by experience the size and 
style of punt gun best suited to the locality in which they shoot ; they will certainly 
use any guns and punts procurable before deciding to purchase, and will then 
probably require a gun built to a special specification, and several months will be 
necessary for the construction of them. Punt guns are rarely in stock, but may 
sometimes be purchased second-hand. 




The Choice of a Gun. 407 



Sportsmen often remark that they are unable to understand why there is so great a 
difference in the prices of best guns, and also that they cannot distinguish between 
a gun at 40 guineas and one at 20 guineas. Some makers advertise their best guns 
at 25 guineas, others at 50 guineas, or even 70 guineas. Why should hammerless 
guns cost so much more than hammered guns ? and why should there be so great a 
difference in the price of hammered breech-loaders? A-double-barrelled central-fire, 
1 2-gauge breech-loader, proved, and a complete, usable weapon, is sold wholesale, at 
the present time, at thirty shillings. At that price it is at present a marketable 
commodity, and the tendency is downwards. A best hammered gun, 1 2-gauge, 
proved, a complete, usable weapon, is to be purchased at sixty guineas, and will not 
be sold for less. Is the jQbo difference between the two solely for the maker's 
name engraved between the barrels ? If not, where is the difference to be seen ? 

This matter should not be difificult to understand, Vv^hen it is remembered how 
intricate and how numerous are the stages of construction through which all guns 
must pass. 

The barrels of best guns are made from the best iron and steel, and welded into 
barrels by superior welders ; the cheaper grades are made from inferior metal, and 
either welded under the tilt hammer as already described, or made into barrels by 
inferior workmen, who, from receiving a lower price for their work, have to weld a 
larger number of barrels per week. In the boring and grinding, the common barrels 
are done at less than half the cost of the best ; this is managed by grinding them 
without turning and trueing them in the lathe^, by being not so particular about 
the setting, and if a few rings are left inside from the rough-boring it is counted of 
no consequence. 

In the filing of the barrels the difference is more marked ; the common barrels 
are soldered together with sal-ammoniac and soft solder instead of with rosin, which 
is far superior, as it prevents the barrels from rusting underneath the ribs. The 
lumps also are plainly let in, not dovetailed, and the barrels are not struck up or 

4o8 The Gun and its Development. 

planed round to remove the hills and hollows. Commoner ribs also are used that 
is, either scelp twist or plain iron, and there is not so much care taken to insure the 
rib being tapered, levelled, straightened, and equally placed on both barrels. 

The locks also greatly vary ; they may be purchased from two shillings to three 
guineas the pair. In common locks the tumblers, scears and swivels are of iron, 
and only the springs of steel. In medium grades the tumblers and scears are of 
steel, but the bridles are not so well shaped, or the bents so well cut and squared. 

Breech-actions also vary greatly in quality. Common actions may be fitted 
complete at nine or ten shillings each, whereas some of the best quality hammerless 
actions cost as much as ;Q\2 or ^15 to get up. In breech-action fitting, as in lock 
filing, various classes of men are employed, each working at his own quality of work, 
and having to get through a proportionately larger amount of work the farther it is 
removed from the best quality : thus, whilst it takes a good workman three days to 
joint a treble-wedge-fast hammerless breech-action, a common action-filer will joint, 
file, and fit up complete a cheap action in less than one-fourth the time. 

So with the other divisions of gun-making ; the prices vary according to the 
ability of the executant. Gun stocks range in price from a shilling to thirty or more j 
the work known as finishing may be done for a few shillings ; if done thoroughly, 
carefully, and in best style, it will cost as many sovereigns. 

The polishing, the browning, etc., all vary considerably in the same manner. 
The engraving is a branch of the trade which is supposed by many sportsmen to 
add greatly to the cost of the gun, but it is inconsiderable compared with other 
branches. It is now possible to completely smother a gun with cheap common 
engraving for a few shillings. 

The very best clean-cut fine scroll engraving may cost as much as four or five 
guineas, or more, according to the quantity placed upon the gun. Gold inlaying, 
which is often done, also adds considerably to the cost. 

The workmen in every division of the gun trade are divided into classes. The 
careful workman, mindful not only of his work upon the gun, but cognisant and 
careful in his treatment of the work of those who have gone before him skilled, 
and able to do what is required and expected of him is a rara avis who can 
command a high wage. A staff of such men must be procured if the best work 
possible is to be obtained ; and they must not only be kept fully employed, but 
employed upon such work as they can take an interest and pride in. To produce a 
best gun, not only must every man be able, but inclined, to do his best ; and above 
all, there must be the guiding mind, intent upon the fashioning of a weapon to 
its ideal. 

The Choice of a Gun. 409 

The best gun must be tried in various stages, and must pass in each before 
proceeding to a succeeding stage ; hence time as well as money is requisite to its 
production. The well-finished gun is one in which every portion is accurately 
shaped, rightly placed, perfectly adjusted, and with that "finish" which skill and 
practice alone can give. The elaborate ornamentation, either by engraving or 
otherwise, will not make a gun well finished ; nor is such ornamentation of such use 
as finish. A gun made and finished in the best manner will stand more hard wear 
than any ordinary gun, even if the principle upon which the commoner gun is 
constructed be superior to that of the best gun. Common guns always give way 
first in the small details : a pin works loose or breaks, and as soon as it is replaced 
in one place it gives way in another, whereas a best gun, like "The One-Hoss Shay," 
breaks up altogether when it does go. 

A great difference in cost, therefore, is due solely to workmanship. Other 
matters of importance in this respect depend upon the degree of excellence the 
maker wishes to attain. If content with producing a very ordinary gun, the expenses 
of so doing will be comparatively small. If a remarkably good shooting gun is 
required, the price may be very high, and certainly will be excessively so unless the 
gun-maker who essays the task has been in the habit of making very fine shooting 
guns. Indeed, a chief item in the cost of good guns is the regulation of the 
shooting, and alterations of the choking and boring ; not infrequently as much 
money is expended in endeavours to obtain the best possible shooting, both of guns 
and rifles, as some makers lay out upon the whole gun stock, lock, and barrel. 
This fact the author knows only too well from oft-repeated experience ; for, in 
addition to the expense of fine-boring, occasionally large numbers of cartridges are 
required, and a deal of time occupied in the shooting and regulating of first-class guns. 
Most of the leading gun-makers try each gun in the rough as vv-ell as in the finished 
state. Next to safety, shooting is certainly the most important point in a gun, 
and great care should always be bestowed by the maker in testing his guns, so as to 
ensure good results when in actual work. This is a point that the makers of cheap 
guns never trouble about; and twenty-five years ago very i^fi guns, either best 
or common, were tested, but it was left for the country dealers or the sportsmen to 
find out the faults or merits, as the case might be. 

A gun all but finished may develop a flaw in material or workmanship that 
precludes it from all save the waste heap ; so it is that no maker of high reputation 
can sell his best guns at the prices asked by a less noted maker, who sells guns of a 
mediocre quality produced by workmen of inferior talent, and, there being less 
waste, pockets greater profits. 

41 o The Gun and its Development. 

Gun-makers who can command over ;;^5o for one of their best guns are io^N, and 
it is a mistake to suppose they receive such prices because they are fashionable 
makers. The truth is, they produce an article worth the money. 

A maker uses the best material, has skilled workmen, and sells his best pro- 
duction, which costs him say jQx^, for ;,^2o. It is the best his talents and means 
allow. Another, out of same quality material, by sparing no pains or endeavour, 
produces his best at a cost of ^^38, which he sells for ;^5o. Both are best guns, 
yet one is infinitely better than the other ; and, in all probability, a third or fourth 
grade gun of the latter would surpass in quafity the best of the former, and sell for 
about the same price. 

If a gun is ordered from a country maker, the maker has to come to Birmingham 
for his barrels and action, locks, etc., and simply stocks and finishes the same, and 
sends the gun to Birmingham to be polished and engraved ; or he buys a gun from 
Birmingham, and having put on his profit and name, sells it as a weapon of his own 
manufacture. A few country makers keep three or four men constantly at work, and 
these usually do three or four branches each ; on this account the work can neither 
be done so cheaply nor so well as in Birmingham. 

There is no doubt useless expenditure sometimes by gun-makers of the most 
fashionable rank. Instead of using the simplest mechanisms they employ, for 
reasons, others which cost much more. They have not to meet competition in the 
same way as a gun-maker trading with wholesale buyers, and if by means of the 
finest workmanship the most elaborate mechanism can be made tolerably efficient 
and is their own, they all prefer it to a simpler and more easily made, therefore 
cheaper, mechanism the invention of someone else. At the present time this system 
very largely obtains, but on the other hand it must be conceded that the art of 
making breech-actions has advanced considerably the last fifteen years ; better work, 
more intelligent work, has been bestowed upon details of manufacture, and the guns 
of to-day, with all their shortcomings, will compare favourably with the masterpieces 
of long ago. 


It is not always easy even for an expert to accurately appraise the value of a gun ; 
to the casual observer there is often no perceptible difference between a fairly good 
gun and a really high class weapon. It is somewhat remarkable, taking into con- 
sideration the numerous instructions which have been published for the guidance of 
those about to purchase guns, that so few, even of the most experienced sportsmen, 
are able to discriminate with certainty between " fine " and " trade " guns. As the 

The Choice of a Gun. 411 

matter is of great importance to every user of the gun, the author will endeavour to 
give such indications as will enable even the tyro to avoid worthless weapons should 
they be offered him ; by carefully observing the instructions given there should be 
no difficulty in purchasing a gun fully worth the estimated value. 

In the first place no gun should be purchased without examination, unless from, a 
person of whose standing there can be no doubt and who will agree to exchange the 
weapon or refund the money if desired to do so. The purchase of a pig in a poke is 
always attended with risk, which no respectable dealer or gun-maker requires a customer 
to run. Many advertisements of the " catch-penny " type appear in the general news- 
papers, and are occasionally found in the columns of the sporting press. Offers of 
guns at an extremely low price will not delude the common-sense man into parting 
with his money. Some people, in the hope of securing a bargain, get caught on the 
well-baited trap ; less frequently the reckless advertiser is prosecuted and convicted. 
The following specification, copied from a gun-maker's list, is a never-failing catch : 
*' i2-bore gun, laminated steel barrels, left choke-bored, top-lever, snap-action, purdey 
double bolt, extended rib, rebounding, and low hammers ; patent fore-end, figured 
walnut, half pistol-hand stock, horn heel-plate, scroll engraving. Price, 60s." The 
same description might be applied to a sixty-guinea gun with as much truth. Until 
a sportsman knows something about guns he should purchase of a respectable 
maker. Even " friends " will seek to benefit by a young man's inexperience more 
frequently than will the dealer, who wishes to secure his custom, and looks forward 
towards future orders as well as to present profits. 

Look at the illustration on p. 412 : the cheapest gun is here depicted; it may 
be known by having ist, all the parts which should be square and flat, rounded; 
2nd, all the parts as the barrels which should be round, a series of flats; 3rd, hammers 
which are odd, and which stand when both are at half-cock as though one were at 
full, and, when both are " down," one rests on the nipple, but the other will not 
reach it ; 4th, one lock won't " speak," the other roars ; 5th, one striker sticks out 
and upwards, the other is pitched as though the breast not the head of the 
hammer were to strike it ; 6th, the rib is not straight, and is very much more on one 
barrel than on the other the barrels are neither straight nor round, and are 
generally thicker on one side than the other ; 7th, the extractor has a crooked leg, 
and when the gun is opened, it sticks out as though pleased to escape from its ill- 
shaped recess on closing the gun, its contortions are astonishing ; 8th, the barrels 
are bright inside, but it is not the brightness of a silvered mirror, rather the bright- 
ness of a leaden bullet ; 9th, there is no close fitting of any part : the action body is 
barely touched by the barrels, the holding-down bolt is a crooked article in a crooked 


The Gun and its Development. 

hole, the fore-end will drop from the gun when it is fired, or will want all your 
strength to get it off, and the " wide joint " may be seen wherever two pieces come 
together; loth, the engraving is a series of ill-shapen, deeply-cut furrows, cross- 
harrowed with meaningless scratches; nth, the balance is bad, and the gun heavy; 
1 2th, the stock worse than that of an army musket, having traces of " file-teeth," and 
exhibiting that rough open grain inseparable from spongy wood, and which the oily 
gloss cannot hide ; 13th, the butt-plate, an ornamental sporting or other design 
made of stamped rubber. 

Such is the " export gun." If its user survives ten shots, the gun will not. On 
trial it may fail to go off; the striker is too short, or does not strike centrally; this 

The "Export" Gun. 

is rectified ; then it will be found that the other striker is too long, and, after the 
gun has been fired, it will not open : this is altered. The mainspring is so poor its 
elasticity has departed, and miss-fires ensue ; new mainspring fitted : this is too 
strong for the lock, which is only of soft iron, so the tumbler gives way ; steel 
tumbler fit : the scear, being iron, has worn away in only trying the lock, and fails 
to keep lock at cock, so the gun goes off unawares ; complete new lock-work fitted : 
hammers drop off, triggers jam, and screws drop out in an unaccountable manner. 
The gun is thoroughly overhauled, is kept a month at the smith's ; at first shot 
barrels drop asunder, owing to having been soldered together with sal-ammoniac, 
which, from its chemical action, destroys barrels and solder. Thus the cheap gun 

The Choice of a Gun. 413 

costs more in repairs in one season than a good gun would want in twenty, and is 
a standing annoyance to its owner. The gun of slightly better class will look much 
the same, but the locks should be of steel, and the action fitting better. Twist 
barrels are a step higher ; next is found close fitting, and traces of some care having 
been used in putting the strikers in centrally, in getting the hammers to match, in 
having the rib midway between the barrels. When Damascus barrels are used, the 
gun is up in price, and the weapon reaching a serviceable standard. Next, the 
barrels are straight, the stock harder and more shapable, the lines cut into the iron 
can be seen to follow some design fugitive and inappropriate, it may be, but still a 
design. With smoothly working locks, better balanced guns, two iron Damascus 
barrels, usable pull off, and a well-fit action, we are rapidly approaching a grade 
that may be serviceable, if not high-class. When, instead of a rubber-stamped butt 
or heel-plate, we have an ebonite or horn hand-cJiequered one, we have reached the 
first grade of the artist workman, and not the turning-out machine. We find in the 
better grades a smoothness and flatness of the lock-plates that is easily noticeable ; 
and, as the inside of the plate is square and flat too, the lock is cocked with an easy 
movement and uniform increase of pressure. Not only do the hammers match and 
stand alike, but nipples, triggers, and screws fit closely and tightly ; and in the still 
higher grades every pin will be found to fit accurately, to have its slit running in a 
preconceived direction, and every part, when inspected, will be found to have had 
some attention paid to it, to make it as perfect as the worker's idea of it had 
determined. In examining a fine gun, even if it be as heavy as that of the '' trade 
gun," it will be found to handle " like a thing of life " when compared with its 
^'export" competitor; the bottom rib will be found as accurately shaped, as small, 
and as carefully put on, as though that were the rib which would receive every 
scrutiny ; and even the butt-plate screws which to the well-glued heel-plate are of 
very little service will be found to be as well-shaped, slit, and accurately fitted as 
if the whole reputation of the gun and its maker were staked upon those pins 
alone. So must it be. Unless attention be given to every piece, no matter how 
seemingly unimportant, the gun is not well made, and may fail just where least 

From the first conception of the gun to the last stroke of the buffstick, there 
must be paramount care in the choice and fashioning of the material, and the right 
relation in size and position of every piece to each other and to all. 

There is probably no gun without its faults of construction, but in a gun of the 
first quality they should be known only to the maker, and such as he cannot remedy 
r.or others detect. 

414 The Gun and its Development. 

Then, just so much as is the talent of the maker superior or inferior to that of 
his competitors, will his gun be superior or inferior to their productions. 

In no country are better sportsmen to be found than in the United States of 
America, nor does any country possess keener buyers or better men of business, yet 
in no country is so much of the worthless rubbish of the Continental gun-factories 
offered for sale. The Boers are a race of sportsmen, but it is of no use to offer 
them rubbish at any price, and the author can hardly believe that the astute 
American will sacrifice everything to cheapness. It is certainly a fact that the 
American salesmen are without equal, and have such powers of persuasion that one 
is half inclined to believe that the American rifle has never had its equal ; but even 
the ability of the salesmen could not overcome the repugnance of the buyer to the 
rattle-trap designated by the Suhl or Liege maker as " export guns," providing the 
would-be purchaser could or would discriminate between a serviceable and an un- 
serviceable weapon. In the United States there are two classes of guns made. 
The machine-made trade gun, the sale of which is vigorously pushed at every 
opportunity. The better-class gun, made by some American-born or emigrant 
gunsmith, whose production is limited and sales unimportant. An American gun, 
at about three times the price of the American machine-made gun, will be a superior 
weapon in every way to the machine-made gun; but be sure that it is of American 
make, for imported guns are sold as of any make, just as there is a demand. Of 
imported guns there are three classes the real trade gun, rubbish ; the legitimate 
trade gun English or foreign guns, made sound and well by a responsible maker,^ 
who will put his own name upon them, and give as good quality as the price given 
by the importer will allow; the fine gun, the bond fide production of an English 
maker of reputation, and imported to special order, or for sale only by the special 
agent of the maker in question, or some honest and enterprising dealer. la 
America, however, dealers are very loth to keep in stock the fine guns of any maker.. 
In England, on the Continent, especially in France, Germany, Austria, Russia, and 
Italy, where the sportsmen are more discriminating and exacting, there is always a 
choice of twenty different grades of guns, and especially in France and Germany 
the sportsman can appraise the additional amount spent in bettering the quality of 
the weapon. The American, and very many colonial sportsmen, cannot or wmU not 
discriminate between the first and second classes, and are slow even to see the 
difference between the second and third. Now, nothing should be more easy than 
to distinguish the good gun from rubbish ; the third from the first of the classes 
before referred to. 

The worst fault of the very cheap gun is its unserviceability. It is unequal ta 

The Choice of a Gun. 415 

the work required of it, and the barrels usually are unable to withstand the strain of 
sporting nitrogunpowders. With a cheap gun the only possible explosive is the 
coarse-grained black gunpowder. The very cheap guns, again, are often dangerous 
because the locks used are of such quality that they not unfrequently go off unawares 
when the gun is carried at full cock, and, with rebounding locks, carried at half-cock, 
the workmanship is so bad that the hammers, by a blow from behind, may be 
pushed down upon the striker and so explode the cartridge. The brazing together 
of the barrels is untrustworthy, and the breech actions quickly wear loose, and after 
a few days' wear the gun is regarded often with good reason as highly dangerous. 


The spurious gun may be either a gun represented as being of a quality it is 
not, or as the production of a maker other than the real one. After taking all into 
consideration, it is the first class which is the most dangerous to the unwary buyer. 
The vapid platitudes of the salesman spread a glamour over the transaction, and 
the sportsman purchases a gun which will trouble him more and more as he gets to 
know it. Against the purchase of this class of gun the sportsman must always be 
on his guard. 

The second class of gun is simply a forgery. Belgian guns are sent to P^nglaiid 
to be proved, or the English proof marks are imitated ; " English fine twist " is 
engraved upon the rib, or any maker's name is put on to the order of the importer. 

Some makers do not scruple to state in their lists that they will put upon their 
productions " made in London, or in Eibar, or in Brescia," or in any other town 
whose manufactures have a better reputation than their own. Never buy a gun 
without the maker's name upon it. 

All the leading makers or their retailers now advertise, so that the exact name 
of the maker wished is easily obtained ; see that the gun bears this name, and rightly 
spelled, for the change of a letter is often made, the maker of the forgery thereby 
thinking that his liability is lessened, and foreign forgers make dreadful havoc with 
English names, whereas probably no careful maker has ever turned out a gun 
wrongly or incorrectly named, so far as his name goes. As to the more general 
forgeries, they will be found to be changes rung upon the name of a maker of 
reputation. No one would forge " Smith " or " Jones," and happy the gunmakers 
who possess such names; but names as "Greener" will be spelled " Greenen," 
" Purdey " as " Purdy," " W. C. Scott & Son " as " J. N. Scotts Son," whilst of the 
imitations of " Westley Richards " the name is legion. The alteration in the 
initials, or the Christian name, or the address is more frequent, and all " Horace 

41 6 The Gun and its Development. 

Greener," "Albert Greener," J. H., W. H., A, H., and other H. Greener guns are 
practically forgeries. From the affluent position most of these dealers and getters- 
up of spurious guns enjoy, makers of reputation prefer to suffer rather than engage in 
what they know must be a disagreeable and very probably a most disastrous prosecu- 
tion. The author believes that he alone has instituted criminal proceedings for this 
species of forgery ; the result being the imprisonment of the offender. And although 
the method of procedure is distasteful and expensive, the author appeals to those who 
have been deluded into the purchase of a forged Greener gun to communicate with 
him at once, in order that an effort may be made to stop this nefarious trade. 

There is another more subtle form of deceit commonly practised in Liege and on 
the Continent. It consists of engraving the gun conspicuously with the name of the 
patentee of one of the parts of the mechanism. The most notable instances are 
" Greener" upon cross-bolt guns, and " S. & W." upon the Smith and Wesson type 
of revolver. In a case tested before the Belgian courts the defence advanced was 
that the weapons were of the type associated with the plaintiff's name, and that the 
name was intended to refer to the system, not to the maker, of the weapon. When 
" Greener " is put in bold gilt letters on the top rib, and other words, if any, in small 
insignificant characters, the name is certainly misleading, whatever the intention ; but 
unfortunately there is no way of stopping the practice. 

In Great Britain, under the new Merchandise Marks Act, makers of spurious 
guns may now be prosecuted ; and the sooner the chief clauses of this Act are made 
international law, the better it will be for foreign sportsmen. In the British 
Colonies the sportsman is fairly protected by law : but probably the most flagrant 
instance of trading in spurious guns occurred at Melbourne, where a Jewish firm 
of gun importers, in a very large way of business, selling to all the Australian 
colonies, had long practised a most impudent fraud. If a customer inquired for 
any well-known make of gun, an unnamed Belgian gun was forthwith stamped with 
the name of the maker demanded, and usually a sale completed. For making such 
unwarrantable use of the author's trade name an action was brought, in the year 1895, 
and the author was awarded ;^5,5oo damages ; but it is doubtful whether this covered 
more than a fraction of the real injury wrought, and was, of course, no reparation to 
the sportsmen who had been deluded into purchasing spurious weapons. Unfor- 
tunately the defendants appealed against the verdict, and litigation proceeded for 
more than a year afterwards. The evidence obtained showed that many of the 
best-known fire-arms manufacturers had been victimised by this one firm, four 
members of which were subsequently prosecuted criminally and sentenced to various 
terms of imprisonment. 

The Choice of a Gun. 417 


The fit of a gun is a truly personal matter, for although the majority of sportsmen 
can shoot well with the gun which suits eighty men out of every hundred, unless the 
gun is liked by them they will never feel that they shoot so well with it as they 
should, as no two persons are alike ; therefore every person, to be exactly suited 
with a gun, will require something different to that which will suit another, but in 
practice the difference is often so slight as not to be noticeable. The most important 
point is the weight of the weapon, for many sportsmen sadly overweight themselves 
with needlessly heavy weapons ; the gun when put up at a mark for trial does not 
seem heavy, but after carrying it for a few hours or when fatigued by walking, waiting, 
or working, the gun will not be " put up " as it was when the sportsman was fresh. 
The lighter the gun the greater control the muscles have over the gun to align it 
properly, and the longer they retain that power. The ability to handle a gun with 
precision is more likely to fill the game-bag than the possession of a perfectly fitting 
weapon. The really good shot can shoot well with almost any gun ; a perfectly 
fitting stock will never make a good shot out of a bad one. There is no reason, 
however, why the sportsman should use a gun that does not suit him. Mr. E. D. 
Fulford (who grassed 194 pigeons successively), Dr. Carver, Captain Brewer, Mr. 
J. A. R. Elliott (who killed 100 pigeons straight), making the highest-possible scores 
they all, when making their finest shooting, used guns built for them by the author, 
but for which they were never " measured." This need not be advanced as a reason 
why other sportsmen may not avail themselves of the best methods for getting a 
gun that will suit them, but it is indisputable evidence that the best marksmanship 
does not depend upon exact measurements by an experienced gun fitter. 


Most shooters align the gun with the right eye, that eye being the stronger ia 
most men. If the sight of the left eye is stronger than that of the right, the shooter 
must close his left eye when aiming; or he may shoot from the left shoulder, or 
have a gun so made that it is alignable with the left eye though fired from the right 
shoulder. If there is any doubt as to which eye directs the aim, it may be easily 
ascertained by proceeding as follows : 

Take a finger ring and hold it out at arm's length ; look through it with both 
eyes open at some object twenty or more feet distant ; close the left eye. If the 
right eye still sees the object through the ring which has not been moved the 


The Gun and its Development. 

right eye will align the gun, and the sportsman may with every advantage dispense 
with all correcting impedimenta and shoot with both eyes open. If the left eye 
being the stronger aligns the gun, the sportsman must shut it, or shoot from the 
left shoulder ; or have a particularly constructed stock which shall enable him to 
aim with the left eye whilst shooting from the right shoulder. 

Providing the sportsman be one of the minority, he should write fully to an 
experienced gunmaker or the nearest practical gun dealer and arrange for the building 
of a special gun to meet his special need. 

The sight-aligner and adjustable gun, invented in 1882 by Mr. E. Oliver 

Oliver's Sight-Aligner. 

(Mr. W. W. Greener's London House manager), is so contrived that an expert stands 
behind the sight disc, and while the aim is being taken he can discover whether 
both eyes of the shooter are open, and if the aim is a correct one, it is possible 
for him to see right down the barrels, providing there is a good light. This was 
used with the first try gun made, and was adopted by many gun-makers to get their 
customers properly fitted with guns. 

The Choice of a Gun. 419 

to ctioose a gun which will fit correctly. 

Take a gun, and put it up to the shoulder two or three times without aiming at 
anything in particular ; if it seems to come up easily, and to be under perfect control, 
choose a mark ten or fifteen feet distant, and slightly higher than the aimer's shoulder. 
Fling up the gun quickly whilst looking steadily at the mark, and immediately the 
gun is at the shoulder close the left eye, and glance at once along the rib ; the sight 
on the muzzle should cover the object at which the shooter was looking as he 
brought up the gun. If upon this manoeuvre being repeated several times, it is 
found that the gun each time covers the mark at which it is aimed, it should be 
tried in like manner at other marks at different distances and elevations. If these 
marks are covered in the same manner, the gun may be considered a fit, and a little 
practice will make the shooter quite at home with the weapon. It should then be 
tried at a target. Take a few snap shots at a bull's eye, and if the shots are not placed 
central, something is wrong with either the gun or the shooter. If a man cannot 
hit a fixed mark at thirty to forty yards every time with a shot gun he cannot expect 
to hit birds on the wing. 

The sportsman who can make his choice out of a large stock of guns, or with 
the assistance of an experienced man to guide him, has a great advantage over the 
man whose trials must be made with a few weapons and without the help of an 
expert to correct any faulty actions which may escape the observation of the shooter. 
For instance, a person adept in the art of gun fitting would detect at once whether 
a second aim was taken in aligning the gun, and could immediately so alter a 
dummy try-gun as to come up in the way desired ; whereas the shooter, if alone, 
must note where the gun points, and calculate what amount of alteration is necessary. 

If a gun is pointed much below the mark at which it is aimed, the stock of the 
gun is too crooked, too short, or the gun too heavy. 

If it points above the mark at which it is aimed, it is too straight or has 
too much toe upon the stock. It is much better to use a gun that is too straight 
than one that is the reverse, as the author will prove in the paragraphs on the 
use of guns. 

If it points to the right, it is cast-off too much ; if to the left, the cast-off is not 
sufficient. If it is not horizontal, but twisted over so that the right barrel is the 
higher, the stock requires to be twisted over by casting off the toe more ; if the left 
barrel is higher (which is very rarely the case) both the cast-off of the gun and the 
shape of the butt must be altered. 

The straighter and longer the stock which can be manipulated with ease, the 


The Gun and its Development. 

better and quicker will be the shooting, and less fatiguing the work of a heavy- 
day's shooting. All good guns are so regulated that, aimed point-blank and dead- 
level along the rib, they will centre on the mark at forty yards' distance. 

Some trap shots require their guns to carry as many as 6 in. high at forty 
yards ; this is preferable to using a gun which shoots high because, being too 
straight in the stock, it is aimed too high. Misses with a shot-gun, as with a rifle, 
more frequently arise from errors in elevation than the misdirection of the aim. 

The "try gun" is a gun-maker's tool, which permits of the stock being altered 
to any length, bend, cast-off, and shape of the butt, and is of use in fitting a 
sportsman who needs a gun of special build. Most of these guns are capable of 

The Try Gun, or Adjustable Gun Stock. 

being fired, but, as not one of them handles at all like an ordinary gun, it does not 
follow that, because a shooter is able to use it with success, a proper gun made 
with the same measurements of stock will prove quite suitable. It is a tool which 
can be used to good advantage only when in the hands of an experienced 

A short gun stock assists the shooter to get up the gun freely, but is against his 
holding it firmly against the shoulder ; a large butt, not too flat, and with a fairly 
broad toe, is the best for bedding firmly against the shoulder ; it should, in most 
cases, be slightly shorter to the left edge of the butt-plate than to the right. The 
better and more truly the butt fits the shoulder the more comfortable will be the 
gun in use, and the less appreciable will be the recoil. 

The hand, or the grip of the gun, must not be so thick that it cannot be grasped 
with ease ; it may be of oval section, or egg shape, with the smallest point at top, 

The Choice of a Gun: 421 

or, to afford a better grasp, even diamond shape in section : it must not be round, 
or have too fine or too flat a chequering, or feel clumsy, and the fore-end must be 
narrow, standing high from the barrels, and fall full into the palm of the left hand 
when it grips the barrels. 

It is sometimes said that a sportsman cannot shoot with a gun that suits him if 
he varies his clothing ; possibly some men cannot, but they are not good shots, nor 
should they pose as such, for, as before stated, the good shot, the man who knows 
how to handle a gun and how to aim, will shoot well with any gun. Dr. Carver 
has in a single exhibition shoot of less than an hour's duration shot and performed 
equally well with a Winchester repeating rifle of the military model, a double shot- 
gun of 2|-in. bend, and a double shot-gun of 2-in. bend. The man who really 
means to shoot well does so irrespective of any trifling wrong dimension in the 
weapon he has to use, and the acquisition of the art of shooting enables one to do 
what the hypercritical gun-fitting faddist would not attempt with even the most 
favourable conditions. 


There is no definite authority for the prevailing fashion in gun-stocks, and the 
dimensions and shape of this part of the gun have given rise to more frequent 
discussion amongst gun-makers and sportsmen than anything else connected with 

The measures of the gun-stock include the bend, length, and cast-off. These 
are of great importance to the user of the gun, and must suit his particular method 
of handling the gun, as well as the stock being of such dimensions as the shooter's 
build i.e., length of arm, breadth of chest, etc. may determine. 

The measures of the gun-stock may be ascertained as follows : 

Take a piece of wood or iron, with a perfectly straight edge, sufficiently long to 
reach from the sight on the muzzle to the extremity of the butt ; lay this straight- 
edge along the rib, and measure the distance from a to heel, and from B to comb. 
This is the bend. The lengths required will be from the centre of the fore or right- 
hand trigger to the heel, centre, and toe respectively, and the depth from the heel to 
the toe. The circumference of the hand may be obtained by passing a string 
round it ini77iediately behind the trigger-guard, and measuring the string. In taking 
the length, measure the extreme length, and not to the edge of the heel-plate. The 
dimensions given on p. 422 are in due proportion, and as usually made for English 
and American sportsmen respectively. 

The Rational Gun Stock, 

The Choice of a Gun. 423 

Cast-off is the amount the stock is thrown out of truth with the barrels in a lateral 
direction. Most gun-stocks are twisted over that is, the toe of the butt is more 
"cast-off" than the heel the usual "cast-off" is yVths for heel and |ths for toe. 

Balance. This is always to be measured from the breech-ends of the barrels. 
It is best to balance the gun on thin string. 

A i2-bore with 30-in. barrels weighing 7 lbs. or over should balance at about 
3 ins. from the breech; if with 27-in. or 28-in. barrels and 5f lbs. to 6 lbs., about 
2f ins. from the breech would be considered a good balance. 

The measures given in the illustration of the English gun-stock are the dimen- 
sions usually adhered to by gun-makers in this country, and guns so built are found 
to suit quite 80 per cent, of British sportsmen. 

Americans use guns with stocks much more crooked, as, when shooting, they 
keep the head erect, and many English colonists follow this rule, the crooked gun- 
stock being quite common in South Africa and Australia. 

The lengths of the gun-stock from fore-trigger to toe and heel will regulate the 
angle of the butt, and the cast-off will throw the butt over a little, so that unless the 
butt were rounded or chamfered, its edge only would touch against the shoulder. 
The amount of chamfer required will depend upon the amount of "cast-off" and 
the build of the person for whom the gun is intended. Dr. W. F. Carver always 
shot with a heel-plate, not only much hollowed i.e.^ very much shorter to centre 
than to the extremities but also chamfered so as to fit squarely against the 
muscles of his shoulder. Many shooters will find it more comfortable to shoot 
with a gun having the butt so rounded, or sloped, than with the usual butt, which is 
of equal length to either edge. 

Guns with stocks from 14 in. to 14! in. long, measuring from the fore-trigger 
to the centre of heel-plate and the regular "cast-off" {-^-^ in. at heel and 
I in. at toe), will be found in most gun-makers' shops. A sportsman above the 
average height should take a gun-stock longer than usual, and also one slightly 
more bent. The longest stock the author has made is 17 in., the greatest bend 
4I in., and the straightest, a stock " set up " above the level of the rib. It rarely 
happens that stocks shorter than 13I in. are required. A shooter with sloping 
shoulders will find that a stock about 2f in. bend at heel and if in. at comb will 
probably suit him best. 

The gun-stock must be so fashioned that the heel-plate shall be at a right angle, 
or nearly so, to the barrels, and the gun will stand with the barrels almost per- 
pendicular. Some, however, prefer that the gun when stood upright shall be such 
that the sight and the centre of the butt shall be in a plumb-line. 

Showing how to Balance a Gun. 

The German Horn Grip Guard. 

The Choice of a Gun. 425 

A thin man requires but little cast off to his gun, whilst a stout man with broad 
shoulders may need a gun much cast-off. 

The pistol-hand gun-stock, especially in that form shown in the illustration of 
the American gun-stock, and known technically as half pistol-hand, is the common 
form throughout Canada and the United States, and is also widely used by the 
sportsmen of Australia and South Africa. 

Amongst English sportsmen the use of the pistol-grip is confined chiefly to 
double rifles and large-bore guns ; it permits of a firmer grip than the straight 
hand stock, but is not so convenient for pulling the left trigger in quick succession 
to the right. With the straight grip the hand may slide backwards, but with the 
pistol grip it is necessary to bend the trigger finger more to fire the second barrel 
rapidly. Some sportsmen, whether using straight or pistol-hand stocks, find it 
more convenient to pull the near trigger first and move the hand forward to fire 
a rapid second. 

There are other shapes of stocks, with which many sportsmen are acquainted, 
but to others they will be novel, and offer certain advantages. First, there is the 
horn grip guard, equivalent to the scroll guard oit\\e old-fashioned English rifle. This 
guard is supposed to allow a better and firmer grip of the gun to be obtained with 
the right hand the same advantage as claimed for the pistol-hand stock, and it 
moreover prevents the second finger of the right hand from being bruised by the 
back of the trigger-guard. 

The horn guard is much used by some Continental sportsmen, and the German 
gun-makers particularly fashion it into an ornamental fitting for either the shot-gun 
or rifle. Another Continental form is the shield guard, or horn before guard. 
With this style of stock, the gun is grasped just in front of the trigger-guard by 
the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, the palm of the left hand and the 
remaining fingers being firmly pressed against the guard. This style of holding the 
gun is not to be commended, but it must be admitted that many fine shots are to 
to be found who never hold their gun differently. 

The rational gun-stock was introduced by the author some time ago, and it 
embodies qualities long sought in pistol-grip guns, and the undeniable advantage 
of the straight stock. 

In this stock, as will be seen from the illustration, there is more than the 
usual bend at the bump or heel, and that the comb is not straight, but arched 
slightly ; and as the cheek touches the stock about midway between the heel and 
the thumb, it is there, and there only, that the stock need be straight. 

With the usual English gun-stock, put up in the usual manner, it vail be found 
O * 

426 2 HE Gun and its Development. 

that about one-quarter of the butt projects above, and has no bearing against 
the shoulder. This leaves the sharp narrow toe to steady the gun and to take the 
recoil. With the rational stock, the face of the shooter will be resting upon the 
stock when the bump or heel has reached a level of the shoulder, and the whole 
of the butt will find a bearing in the hollow of the shooter s shoulder. The bend 
of the gun will, with the rational stock, be about 2\ in. at heel, \\ in. at comb, 
and 1 1 in. midway between heel and comb. 

In the gun with the cheek-piece the cast-off of the gun is almost, and frequently 
quite, annulled by the projection on the left side of the stock, called the cheek- 
piece. From the dotted lines in the illustration indicating the full centre, it will be 
seen that the stock has an advantage to the right, but this advantage is com- 
pensated for by the projecting cheek-piece, which at the centre of the stock 
actually projects beyond the true line. 

The use for and necessity of cast-off will at once become apparent on an 
examination of the next illustration, showing a gun so cast over that it may be 
aligned from the right shoulder with the left eye. This kind of stock serves a very 
useful purpose. Unfortunately, too many shooters lose the sight of the right eye 
from some mishap when using their guns, and to such a gun with a stock of this 
description is an absolute necessity. But more than one style of stock has been 
devised for these sportsmen, and the second model shown is, of the two, to be 
preferred ; it is quite as handy and strong, and gives the same shaped comb at the 
same angle as an ordinary stock. The " Monopeian " gun comes into this same 
category, although the result obtained is not by bending over or so fashioning the 
stock that the left eye may see over to the rib and align the gun, but the sight is 
brought out to the left side of the left barrel, and an additional sight affixed to 
the breech. 


The top ribs of shot-guns are usually made "hollow" that is, grooved and 
the rib follows the curvature of the outer shape of the barrels. In the illustration 
Fig. B is of this type ; it has both its upper edges raised, as shown in section D, 
and is "swamped," or lower at midway between breech and muzzle than at either 
end : this is the lightest rib. A " flat " rib is a rib having a square cross section, 
as shown at C, and it may be "swamped " just as the hollow rib, and as shown in 
B. If it is to be level so that a straight-edge laid along it from breech to muzzle 
will touch at every point in its length, it is as shown in Fig. A, and is known as a 
"straight" rib. It is a true plane on its upper surface, and, as shown in the 

"Gun Stock with Cheek 

Stock cast over for left 

Bent Stock for use from right 
shoulder with the left eye. 

428 The Gun and its Development. 

illustration, the line of sight coincides with the upper surface of the rib. The 
hollow rib may be "level" or " swamped," as preferred, and both may be deadened 
by engine-turning, file-cutting, or engraving as shown in the pigeon gun illustrated. 
All ribs taper slightly from breech to the muzzle, narrowing proportionately with the 
taper of the barrels. 


The choice of a gun must be determined, first, by the purposes for which it 
is intended that it is to be used, and, secondly, by the physique of the person 
by whom it will be used. 

The information given in the chapter on the shooting capabilities of shot-guns 
should prove ample for the sportsman to fix definitely the charge of powder and 
load and size of shot which will be required for his purpose, and the gauge of 
barrel which will shoot this charge to best advantage. 

The gauge of the gun settled, the length of the barrel must be decided upon. 
The proportionate length will soon be ascertained from the ratio of length to 
calibre 40 to i holds good for shot-guns as for rifles and the exact diameters of the 
various bores are given in the Schedule of the Proof House Tests. In practice, 
as good results are obtained with sporting loads if the length of the barrel is 
slightly less than the theoretic maximum ; with chambers of the usual length the 
i2-gauge choke-bore barrel is better under than over the 29*16 inches, which is 
theoretically its correct length. Barrels of 28 inches seldom fail to give complete 
satisfaction, but the short barrels should not be chambered for extra-long cartridges, 
neither must the light ones. The gauge and length of barrel will determine the 
weight of the weapon ; if its weight is not proportionate to the load used, it will 
recoil unpleasantly. A safe rule is to have the gun 96 times heavier than the shot 
load. This means a 6-lb. gun for an ounce of shot; 6|lbs. for ig-oz. ; 7^ lbs. for 
i^oz., and these may be shot with comfort, irrespective of the gauge of the gun ; 
but, as made clear in the chapter on the varieties of shot-guns and their capabilities, 
the i2-bore gun is handicapped by being lightened and the barrels shortened. 
For shooting small loads the better plan is to reduce the gauge. On the other 
hand, the author has many times received orders to build 12-bore guns under 7 lbs. 
weight, yet chambered for the 2|-inch cartridge case, and intended for use with 
47 grains of nitro and ijoz. of shot, and chiefly for pigeon shooting. As this 
heavy charge can be loaded into cases of the ordinary length nothing is to be 
gained by having the 2|-inch chamber, nor is the weight of the gun suitable for 
such still heavier charges as may be loaded into long cases. 



Ribs :" Hollow,' "Flat," 
" Swamped," and " Straight. 

The " Monopeian 

W. W. Greener's Flat-rib 
" Pigeon " Gun. 

43 The Gun and its Development. 

The gun will be more or less choke-bored ; to dispense with the choke is to sacri- 
fice efficiency, for choke-boring is the only method by which the outward expansion 
of the shot can be controlled. The amount of choke best suited for the weapon will 
depend upon the particular use to which the gun is to be put and the skill of the 
shooter to use it, A trap shooter placed at, say, 2 r yards must change his gun 
when the handicapper puts him back to 28 ; but, in deciding the amount of choke, 
it must be borne in mind that the pattern shown on the target does not fairly 
represent the position of the pellets at any given moment, for, having individual 
velocities, some go ahead, others lag behind, and so actually the pattern is never 
exactly what the target represents it to be. A choke-bored gun is four sizes better 
than a cylinder ; that is to say, to get equally close patterns a barrel so much larger 
would be needed to shoot a heavier load and so make an equal pattern, whilst at 
long ranges the larger barrel and heavier loads could never equal the choke. Uni- 
formity in shooting is a quality found in the best guns only ; chokes and cylinders 
alike, unless carefully finished, and a trial made of their performance, will make 
occasional bad shots, any one of which would allow of a pigeon escaping. The 
principal advantage a cylinder possesses is a larger killing circle at from 18 to 
26 yards, or thereabouts. For this wider circle of five inches at 20 yards one must 
sacrifice 15 yards of killing range. For walking up game a gun which gives its 
largest killing circle at 30 yards with the right barrel and at 40 with the left is 
undoubtedly the most convenient for good shots. The various degrees of choking 
may be classified as : 

Full-choke, which, with a 12-gauge gun, standard load, distance ; 

and conditions will make an average pattern of ... ... 215 pellets. 

The half-choke (same conditions) ... ... ... 185 ,, 

The quarter-choke ,, ... ... ... 160 ,, 

The improved cylinder ,, ... ... ... 140 ,, 

The old cylinder ,, ... ... ... 115 ,, 


Any better az;^ra^^ shooting than 215 may be termed an extra full-choke; the 
improved cylinder is a barrel very slightly choked. 

The fit of the gun-stock can be ascertained from actual trial only ; the ordinary 
measurements suit most men, and if the gunmaker knows the height of the 
sportsman, and is advised of any variation from the usual type, as being very 
broad-shouldered, having long arms, etc., he should be able to build a gun which 
will fit well enough for most men. 

The hammerless gun of the Anson and Deeley, " Facile Princeps," and similar 
types, will be shorter over all than a hammer gun having the same length of stock 

The Choice of a Gun. 431 

and barrels, for the distance between the trigger and the head of the gun is nearly 
one inch less. Such guns, therefore, since they have the chief weight between the 
hands, may balance well better than the hammer guns yet indicate a fulcrum 
nearer the muzzle than the position three inches from the breech end of the barrels, 
specified as a perfect balance. 


It is best to order a gun personally, since it is not easy for anyone not 
conversant with trade technicalities to specify correctly the details of the arm 
required. If this is inconvenient, it is usual to supply the gun-maker with the 
measurement of some gun which fits the shooter for whom the new weapon is 
intended, or to give precise indications to enable an expert to judge of the 
dimensions which will probably suit best. A photograph (full-length) is often a 
great assistance ; any peculiarities of build should also be mentioned ; if any spaces 
in the usual order form cannot be filled up, some indication should be given that 
the points they refer to are immaterial. In using technical words, use them in 
the sense gun-makers understand them, or describe what is wanted in ordinary 
language, even though by a roundabout way, for it is better to describe a special 
rib at full length than to order and obtain a "flat" when a "level" one is wanted. 

Instructions have already been given for measuring length and bend of the 
gunstock, taking circumference of the "grip" and lay of the heel-plate; the 
amount of cast-off cannot be measured without special jigs or tools, and it is best 
not to specify the cast-off required unless it has been accurately ascertained by an 
expert. The weight of the pull-off of the triggers is usually 4 lbs. Any deviation 
from this standard should be specified if required. The method of weighing the 
pull is illustrated on the following page. 

The author has made a series of experiments, all proving that at least four pellets 
of No. 6 Chilled Shot are required to kill a sitting blue rock pigeon stone dead, 
always excepting such fluky shots as result in one pellet striking the head or breaking 
the neck of the bird. If the pigeon be struck by six shots, although not one may 
enter a vital part, the shock of the impact is enough to drop the bird at once and 
allow of its being gathered. A cylinder gun will not average three shots into a 
pigeon at 30 yards, and must therefore be considered practically useless at that 
distance ; for, providing the pigeon was fairly struck, and in the centre of the 
charge, not more than one bird out of three would be killed outright or gathered. 
To ensure four pellets being put into a pigeon, a pattern of at least 200 in the 
30-inch circle is necessary. 


The Gun and its Development, 

When extra barrels are required to fit the same stock, if the additional pair is 
widely different from the original pair, the gun will not be wholly satisfactory with 
either pair. It is impossible to get a well-balanced light 1 2-bore gun and a heavy 
to-bore wild-fowling gun simply by changing the barrels. A heavy 12 and a light 
10 may interchange, or there may be barrels of the same gauge, but differing, say, 
8 ozs. in weight. Beyond this limit it is unwise to go the requirement is more 
satisfactorily met by having two guns, even if both be of somewhat cheaper grade. 

. The expense of fitting extra barrels adds quite one-half to the cost of the guns, 
and in cheap guns more than half the cost. The workmanship upon the barrel 
and action-fitting are the heaviest items in the cost of guns, and the extra labour 

The Correct Angle to test the Weight of Trigger-pull. 

entailed by having two sets of barrels instead of one accurately adjusted to breech 
mechanism, and geared with lock-firing and ejecting mechanisms, runs up the cost of 
construction enormously. 

The nature of the work may be estimated from the fact that to get the same 
bend of stock the finest adjustment of the barrels to the action is requisite a 
difference not greater than the thickness of a piece of paper on the under sides of 
the barrels sufficing to throw out the bend one-eighth of an inch or more. It is 
evident, therefore, that it is impossible to fit a new pair of barrels to be exactly the 
same as the old ones unless the stock, and not the breech action only, is furnished 

The Choice of a Gun. 433 

to the gun-maker. It is also apparent that the breech-ends of barrels to fit the same 
stock must be of the same thickness ; if one pair were thicker than the other, the 
striker would be above or below the cap, and, in the same way, if the barrels were 
not the same distance across the strikers would not be central for both pairs. 

As, usually, each action is specially constructed to suit the barrels, and the 
gun built up in proportion to their size, no new pair of barrels can be made to fit, 
even approximately, unless the particular breech action, and, preferably, the whole 
gun, is furnished to the gun-maker. 

Rifle barrels are sometimes fitted to the stock of a small-bore shot-gun, the weapon 
being used alternately as gun and rifle. The "450 or -500 " black powder" calibre is 
suitable for changing with a pair of i6-bore barrels, but if the action is made expressly 
for the rifle barrels the gun will be somewhat clumsy as a shot-gun ; if it is made as a 
shot-gun, it cannot be expected to stand the hard wear of a double Express rifle so well 
as a weapon purposely constructed throughout for use with the heavier charges and 
greater strains. Any larger size shot barrel than 16 is unsuitable; the distance the 
strikers must be apart to allow of 12-gauge cartridges being used necessitates the 
rifle barrels being unduly large at the breech and exceedingly clumsy at the muzzle. 

Another error sometimes made is in specifying the barrels of shot guns to be of 
a certain thickness at the breech and taper gradually to the muzzle, so that, a 
straight-edge being placed to the side, it shall .bear evenly from breech to muzzle. 
No guns are so constructed. Any 12-gauge barrels with the heavy breech ends 
now commonly used would, if taper, weigh about 15 lbs., and the gun would 
balance nearly 12 inches from the breech. The barrels are swamped a curve 
instead of a taper the thickness of their metal being proportionate to the strain 
exerted by the explosion at the various points in their length. 

434 The Gun and its Development. 



The purchaser of a new breech-loader should receive instructions from the seller as 
to the manner in which the gun is to be put together. 

Putting the barrels on to the stock is a very easy matter to one used to it ; to 
the sportsman it is not always a simple matter, especially if the gun be of a type 
new to him. The gun will generally be delivered with the barrels and stock apart. 
The fore- part will be upon the barrels, probably held there by the snap-bolt, which 
must be raised or pressed, and the fore-end at the same time lifted away from the 
barrels. In cheap guns it sometimes happens that the fore-end, which is easy 
enough to remove when the gun is together, fits very tightly upon the barrels when 
the action is off. It will come away easily if it be pressed down upon the barrels 
and towards the muzzle. 

The gun being put together should be wiped free from dust; nothing tends more 
to clog the breech mechanism than dust. 

There are two simple ways of putting barrels and stock together. Take the 
stock in the right hand, keep the lever open with the thumb, partly draw out the ex- 
tractor in the barrels ; take the latter in the left hand and hook them into the breech- 
actionj as shown in the illustration, care being taken to pull the hook well on to the 
hinge-pin ; when they are down on the bed of the breech-action, let go the action- 
lever, turn the gun over, and put on the fore-end. Another way is to take hold of 
the breech-action firmly with the left hand ; hold the barrels perpendicularly in the 
right, hook the breech-action on to the barrels, and press it firmly home. 

In putting a Greener Ejector Gun together 
First. Pull extractors in barrel out to their fullest extent, press back the swivel 
and ejectors as close to the barrel lump as possible. 

Second. Take stock in the right hand, the barrels in the left, keep both in a 
horizontal position, the left side being uppermost. 

Third. Introduce the barrels into the breech-action body, hook first, and 
pulling hook well down on the hinge, snap the barrels home. No force is requisite. 


How TO Use the Gun. 


Fourth. Vnt on the fore-end. The bolts must be right home before affixing the 
fore-end, or possibly the lock mechanism will be broken if forced. 

Dirt often finds its way imderneath the extractor, and this even in a most minute 
quantity will frequently occasion stiffness in working, or very possibly prevent the 

Method of putting Barrels and Stock together. 

gun from closing. Oil and dust, and sometimes a little rust, will be found in the 
bottom holding-down bolt; this causes the gun to work stiffly. The gun must never 
be forced open, or unusual yc'/'r^ used to close it. If the gun does not G^tn freely it 
should be carefully examined, and on the principle that a stitch in time saves nine, 
it may be cleaned thoroughly, providing the cause of the stiffness is not found, and 
the obstruction removed. In putting a gun together, providing all the parts are 

436 The Gun and its Development. 

clean, no stiffness will be noticed and no force requisite. In case of a deadlock in 
putting in the barrel, do not attempt to force the barrels in, but search for the cause. 
Probably, if a hammerless gun, it will require cocking ; if a hammer gun, possibly 
the strikers are projecting through the face, and do not work freely, so that the 
extractor drops upon them and prevents the barrels going home. The keeping ot 
the gun clean, and the mechanism free from grit, will ensure immunity from the 
annoyance of a "jam" in the iield. In case of the sticking together of parts that 
should work freely such as the strikers jamming in the breech-action, the extractor 
clogging in the barrels, or bolts or any parts becoming fast with rust there is nothing 
so good as an application of petroleum ; repeated applications, and the exercise of 
patience, will not fail to loosen the " cement," and make even the rustiest pin 
amenable to the persuasion of a hand turnscrew. Having the gun together, and 
working freely, it will require to be used carefully. It must not be let fall heavily 
on its butt plate ; it must not be pushed underneath the seat of the dog-cart or 
wagonette, and left to take its chance ; it should not be left muzzle-up or muzzle- 
down against a w.all, a gate, or a tree. It should not be used as a crutch, an 
alpenstock, or crowbar. From a critical examination of many guns returned to the 
author, after very little wear, he fancies they must at times be utilised for very 
different purposes from those for which their makers intended them. To speak 
more plainly, some guns are abominably abused. 

The man who means to use his gun roughly is not likely to benefit by reading 
any number of directions as to the care ot guns ; there are sportsmen who do not 
wish to spoil their guns, who act in such a manner as to injure them, and for them 
the following hints are intended : 

More breech-loaders get shaky in the action by being worked carelessly than 
from repeated firing or the use of heavy charges. The barrels of a breech-loader 
should never be jerked down, nor should they be thrown back into position with 
a snap. The proper rrtanner in which to load a gun is to drop the stock under 
the elbow, and press it firmly against the hip or the body, unfasten the lever with 
the right hand, and with the left grasping the barrels a few inches in front of the 
fore-end, lower them easily. Close the gun in a careful manner after putting in the 
cartridges, bringing the stock up to the barrels. 


To clean a gun after a day's shooting. If the gun be wet, it should be wiped 
dry at once, but the cleaning of the barrels and breech-action may be left until the 
sportsman or his servant has time to do it properly. 

Hoiv TO Use the Gun. 437 

To clean the barrels. Use the cleaning-rod, with tow and oil, or turpentine. 
To remove the fouling, put muzzles on a piece of wood, and push the rod down to 
within an inch of the muzzle, and draw up to the chamber. Do this two or 
three times; then push right through. Use the bristle brush, or the rod with 
plenty of flannel ; finish with the mop soaked in refined neatsfoot, pure Arctic 
sperm oil, or vaseline. 

Never half-clean the barrels ; always wipe them dry and clean before finally 
oiling, and do not put the mop used for oiling into a foul barrel. To remove the 
leading from the inside of a gun barrel, soak well with turpentine ; then clean well 
with a bristle brush, or even with a wire brush, but never use emery if the shooting 
qualities of the gun are valued. 

Always wipe the bed, face, and joint of the breech-action with an oily rag or 
flannel. A little linseed oil may be rubbed over the stock occasionally. 

Before putting the gun together, ascertain that all the bearing parts are free 
from dust or grit. 

The joint may be lubricated with a mixture of half best Russian tallow and 
half petroleum. In most hammerless guns, if the cover plate underneath the 
breech-action body is taken off", the locks may be inspected, oiled, and any rust 
or clogged oil and dust removed from the bent. 

The cocking-lifters of hammerless guns, the holding-down and top bolts, and 
the triggers, if they have a tendency to clog, may be touched with a knitting-needle 
dipped in petroleum. They must be lubricated, whenever they require it, with 
chronometer oil, Rangoon oil, or finest neatsfoot. 

Do not use a feather for the purpose of putting on any lubricant ; a wire 
knitting-needle or bodkin is much better. 

To remove rust from inside or outside of a barrel, procure a tub, and with a 
kettle of boiling water well scald the barrels inside and out, inserting a wooden 
peg in one of the barrels to hold them by, wipe perfectly dry with flannel, and 
then oil. It is as well to do this before putting the gun aside for any length 
of time. 

If the barrels are foul through using inferior powder, and the fouling has 
become hard and dry, cold water, or hot soap-suds, may be used to cleanse them. 
Water boiling hot kills rust. 

Turpentine, often used successfully to clean the residue from gun barrels, will 
give great trouble if it gets into the fine-fitting parts of the mechanism of the 
breech-action and locks, and must therefore be used with care. 

Rusty or tight breeches in muzzle-loading barrels may often be turned out, 

438 The Gun and its Development. 

providing the breech-ends of the barrels have been soaked in petroleum. Very 
obstinate breeches may require to be well heated, as well as lubricated, before 
they can be turned out, but usually petroleum will be found a sufficient remedy 
for incipient rust of the working parts. All the parts of the mechanism may be 
cleaned with petroleum ; it removes clogged vegetable and animal oils well. 


Some sportsmen like to take their guns all to pieces and re-arrange the parts. 
This is not requisite, and does not in any way add to the efficiency of the arm. 
The gun-maker is the proper person to take apart the locks, or strip the breech- 
action ; if there is not a practical man within easy reach the sportsman must, of 
course, himself endeavour to effect any repairs, but it is not advisable to interfere 
with any gun that performs properly, nor to practise upon any gun that works 
satisfactorily. If practicable, have a good gun examined each summer by its maker 
or a competent gunsmith. 

To take to pieces a breech-loader for cleaning or repairs, first remove the fore- 
end and barrels ; then, with a strong hand turnscrew, turn out the side-pins, and 
remove the locks and hammers together ; next turn out the guard-pins, and remove 
the bow or guard ; another pin will then be seen in the rear end of the trigger-plate ; 
remove this pin (occasionally this " hand-pin " is placed in the reverse way ; the 
head of this pin will then be found on the top of the grip in the tang of a long 
break-off). The " furniture-pin " should next be partly turned out ; this pin fastens 
the fore part of the trigger-plate to the body of the " breech-action, and is easily 
distinguished. Next remove the " breech-pin " upon the top of the tang of the 
break-off; in top-lever action guns the breech-pin is covered by the lever, which 
must be held on one side whilst the pin is being turned out. Rarely a false pin is 
screwed into the lever, which, when removed, will leave an aperture through which 
the breech-pin must be extracted. After having removed the furniture-pins, the 
trigger-plate and triggers may be taken from the stock, after which the breech-action 
may be removed entire. 

To strip breech-actions, if the action is a treble wedge-fast or ordinary top-lever 
double-bolt action, the first thing will be to remove the spring. To do this, first 
partly turn out the lever spring pin (under tang of break-off), and with a pair of 
pliers or pincers take hold of the spring and slightly grip it, and lift the spring 
towards the head of the pin. It will then be free from its bearing, and may be re- 
moved by completely turning out the spring pin. (This does not apply to spiral springs.) 
Next proceed to turn out the pin or pins connecting the top-lever tumbler with the 

How TO Use ihe Gun. 439 

bottom bolt, and remove the bolt by drawing straight out backwards. Next turn 
out the lever pin on top of lever, and by means of a small wire punch inserted in 
the lever pin-hole, knock out the lever tumbler. The lever may then be removed, and 
the top bolt, if any, will fall out. In side-lever guns, first knock out the pivot on 
which the lever works, then remove spring and bolt. Snap guns with lever under- 
guard may be stripped in much the same manner, but the spring and lever are fixed 
to the trigger-plate, and the spring must be removed before knocking out the pivot- 
pin. Owing to the numerous complicated breech-actions that are made, it is 
possible that the above directions will not be sufficient to enable an amateur to 
strip his gun ; but they will be explicit enough for W. W. Greener Treble Wedge- 
fast and most modern guns. There are many breech-actions made that puzzle 
expert gunsmiths to take apart and repair, and it would be foolish for an amateur 
to attempt to take them apart if a gun-maker is within reasonable distance. 

To strip a muzzle-loader, first remove the lock, then the barrels, then proceed to 
remove the furniture and break-off, as already described for breech-loaders. In 
military rifles, the bands fastening the barrel to the stock must be loosened 
by a screw underneath, and then removed by slipping over muzzle of barrel. 
{Note. Horn heel-plates are usually glued to the stock, as well as being fastened 
by the screws.) 

To strip a gun-lock, first remove the mainspring. This may be accomplished 
with a pair of lock vices, or a cramp may be made by filing a notch or slot in a 
narrow strip of y\ iron or steel, the size of the breadth of mainspring when at full 
cock. Having cocked the lock, slip the cramp up the mainspring until it catches, 
then release the scear and push down the tumbler. The spring being firmly held in 
the cramp, it may be unhooked from the swivel and removed from the lock-plate ; 
then unscrew the bridle-pins and remove the bridle. 

The scear may then be lifted off if the tumbler is not in bent. The scear spring 
will then be at liberty, and may be removed by turning out the pin. Now the 
hammer should be removed ; the tumbler-pin is first turned out, and by means of a 
wire punch inserted in the hole, the tumbler is knocked away from both hammers 
and lock-plate. If a hammer fits well, it will be impossible to remove it in any 
other way without injury either to the hammer or the lock. The spring must not 
be taken out of the cramp ; it requires no cleaning except at the claw or hook. In 
putting a lock together, first screw on the scear spring, then the tumbler, then place 
on the scears, and cramp the spring with a pair of pliers or tongs, place the tumbler 
into half-bent. Then affix the bridle, and screw it to the lock-plate. Take the 
main-spring, ready cramped, hook on to the swivel in tumbler, place the stud in the 

440 The Gun and its Development. 

hole drilled for it in the lock-plate, raise the tumbler to full bent, squeeze the main- 
spring down close to the plate, and remove the cramp ; the lock, will be ready then 
for affixing the hammer, which should be knocked on after placing the lock firmly 
on a solid block to prevent the bridle from breaking. (See page 268 for descrip- 
tion of parts.) 

To take apart the lock-work of the Anson and Deeley Hammerless Gun, proceed 
as follows : 

Having removed the barrels, snap down the hammers or tumblers, remove the 
cover-plate from bottom of breech-action body ; knock out with a wire punch, from 
the right side, the scear pivot, or the one nearest the stock, and remove the scears ; 
knock out the dog-pin, or the one nearest the fore-end joint, and remove the cock- 
ing levers ; partly screw on the cover-plate, and carefully knock out the centre-pivot 
or tumbler-pin, remove the cover-plate, and the tumblers and mainsprings will drop 
out upon the breech-action being reversed. The scear springs lie along the bottom 
of the action, and may be removed after turning out the pins. To put the lock- 
work together, first place the mainspring in the bend of the tumbler, with the stud 
of mainspring bearing in its proper slot, and its other extremity bearing against 
the under side of the nose of the tumbler ; the tumbler and spring having 
been placed in the slot must be forced into position with a cramp, or piece of 
notched wood ; knock in the tumbler-pivot half-way, insert the other tumbler and 
spring in the same manner ; knock the wire pivot right through the lifting-dogs, the 
scears must then be put in, and the whole covered with the cover-plate. The 
Greener hammerless guns, which have similar tumblers and scears and mainsprings, 
may be taken to pieces in the same way, but there are no dogs or lifters to be removed. 

The lock-work of the Greener Ejecting Guns is very similar. Those having the 
lock-work in the fore-end are stripped in the manner of the Anson and Deeley, if 
the locks are on that principle, or like an ordinary gun if the work is affixed to 
ordinary side-lock plates. The ejecting locks in the fore-part are easily stripped. 
The screws in the fore-end free the wood, and this removed, the box containing the 
mechanism is soon detached. 

A difficulty is sometimes experienced in cocking the fore-end ejecting mechan- 
ism. If the fore-end be removed while the gun is opened, it can only be replaced 
either when the gun is in the same position or by cramping the fore-end ejecting 
tumblers into bent : this may be done by pressing them against the square edge 
of a wooden table or bench, and, while compressing the springs, pressing down- 
wards, thus forcing the tumblers into cock or bent ; the fore-end may then be 
replaced in the ordinary way. 

How TO Use the Gun. 441 

To get the extractor from the barrels, the ejecting levers usually have first to be 
removed, then a stop-pin must be found and removed. It is generally on the fiat 
in front of the hook of the barrel-lump, and in a line with the extractor-leg, or, as in 
the Greener gun, it is a small pin in the groove of the extension of the top rib 
through which the cross-bolt passes. 


The following hints will be found useful to those who use guns far away from 
a gun-maker's shop, and need to repair broken-down guns for immediate use : 

The action or top-lever spring may break, but this need not in any way affect 
the utility or safety of the arm, only the lever will have to be moved home when 
the gun is closed, instead of it snapping there, or the spring may be roughly replaced 
by an elastic band suitably adjusted. The strikers of ordinary guns will become use- 
less after continuous wear, owing to the hardened hammer flattening the head of the 
striker, and so shortening its travel as to make miss-fires of frequent occurrence. 
The nipple must then be turned out with a key or a pair of pliers, and a new spare 
striker inserted. In hammerless guns, the tumbler and striker being in one, and the 
point itself striking against the soft copper cap of the cartridge, this flattening does 
not occur, the strikers being of the best mild steel, carefully hardened and tempered, 
and so well made that breakages are of very rare occurrence. 

Perhaps the most usual accident to a sportsman will be the denting or the 
bulging of the barrels. When a bruise is discovered, do not in any case shoot 
out of the gun until the barrels have been repaired, if the bruise is a bad one ; for 
firing out of a badly bruised barrel invariably causes the barrel to bulge considerably, 
or fracture, at the bruised part. To remove a dent, the following is the readiest 
expedient : Having removed the barrel from the action or stock, insert in the 
barrel a solid leaden plug or bullet, or even a wooden plug, as near the 
size of the barrel as possible; insert this from the chamber or breech end 
and pass forward, using a wooden rod for the purpose, such as a good cleaning rod 
with the brush removed, until the obstruction caused by the dent is reached. If the 
barrels be lightly hammered with a very small hammer, and the pressure on the in- 
side maintained by forcing the plug past the bruise, the dent may be raised. It may 
be necessary to use various size plugs, or to beat out the leaden one, and repeat the 
operation until the barrel is as near normal as possible. The barrel should 
be warmed during the process by applying a hot iron to the outside of the bruised 
part. Great care will have to be taken not to get the plug jammed in the barrel. 
If a taper lead plug can be obtained, the process will be greatly simplified, and a 

442 The Gun and its Development 

slightly taper iron or brass plug is much better than a soft lead one. If the barrel 
is bulged a similar plug should be made, and great care will have to be taken 
to hammer the bruise down to the plug with a light hammer. If a hard metal 
plug can be obtained near the required size, it may be packed with paper until 
of the required diameter. The plug must be slightly longer than the bruise 
or dent. 

Another frequent accident in wild countries is the breaking of the gun-stock. 
This may be securely spliced in the following manner : First glue the stock as 
well as possible, then glue round the fracture several pieces of thin leather or canvas, 
and whilst warm tightly bind with waxed thread or a fine lace ; when the whole is 
dry it will be almost as sound as before. Should the break be "short" it will be 
necessary to glue thin pieces of cane on either side of the stock. The wood should 
be warmed before gluing, to enhance the chances of perfect success. 

Repairs to breech-actions require great care and experience in effecting, and 
always when practicable the gun should be sent to the maker, as he has more 
interest in properly repairing it than anyone else. To tighten a breech-action, the 
usual way is to fit a new hinge-pin slightly larger than the old one, or by filing from 
the flats beneath the barrels, and hammering up the bites on the lump, which 
process brings the breech-ends of barrels nearer to the face of the standing-breech. 
When the cartridge bursts at the rim at the upper edge of the case, it is a sure sign 
that the gun requires to be tightened up. 


Guns and shooting paraphernalia should be kept together. If a room cannot 
be devoted solely to them, a capacious cupboard, or a case fitted with a gun-rack 
and several drawers and shelves, will contain a small battery and the requisite 

Guns are best kept put together and placed butt down on a gun-rack in a glass 
case or gun cupboard, of which a suitable pattern is shown on page 617 ; but if 
the case is not practically dust-proof, the guns should be first put in pliable canvas 
or cloth covers. Guns kept in racks in the open room should always be kept so 

Loaded cartridges are best kept on an open shelf, and in a current of air ; 
boxed up in an air-tight cupboard, they will deteriorate more quickly. 

After the close of the season, inspect the guns very closely, and send those 
concerning which there is any doubt to the gun-maker for repairs at once. 

On receiving his report, it will be as well to decide quickly whether or not new 

Ho IV TO Use the Gun. 443 

weapons must be purchased for the next season. Some wet summer day overhaul 
the contents of the gun-room, put the odd cartridges handy for popping at rabbits 
or vermin, see that the cleaning tools are complete, that the cartridge bags, game 
bags, etc. etc., are in good condition, and make a list of the things which will be 
required when the season opens. 

In the season the gun-room will require frequent attention if it is made use of 
by more than one person. The cartridges, as soon as they arrive from the gun- 
maker's, should be transferred to the magazine or cartridge bags of the shooter for 
whom they are intended ; a cleaning-rod and gear, turnscrews and extractor put in 
the travelling gun-case, and the oil bottle refilled. 

Useful tools in the gun-room are : Full length ash, or hickory, cleaning rods ; 
a rod with cotton-wool or fine tow kept specially for oiling barrels. It should be 
a standing rule never to put this oiler into a foul, dusty, rusty, or dirty barrel, but 
keep it for oiling only. 

An oval tundish for cartridge loading, a set of turnscrews, some bristle brushes 
for cleaning out action slots, etc., small pliers, notched pincers for drawing out tight- 
fitting pins, a few steel knitting-needles, refined neatsfoot oil, vaseline, petroleum, 
and turpentine, may be placed near the gun-case for use as required. 


Should a man carry a gun in such a manner as to endanger his companions he 
will be shunned by sportsmen generally, and quite deservedly. 

Sportsmen who have been allowed the use of a gun from their boyhood gener- 
ally make the best and most careful shots, therefore the earlier a boy is entrusted 
with a gun the more likely is he to make a safe shot. The boy who shoots, or is 
learning to shoot, is the one who most rarely fools with firearms. The maxim that 
*' familiarity breeds contempt " does not apply to the knowledge of weapons, for the 
person of the " didn't know it was loaded " order is usually someone who has had 
nothing to do with firearms in their proper place. 

To point a gun at any person should in itself constitute a criminal offence, and 
all firearms must invariably be treated as if loaded ; therefore in all drill, pre- 
liminary to going into the field, make a point of treating the weapon as loaded. With 
practice safe handling becomes habitual, and it must be habitual before any 
sportsman should venture to shoot in company. The man who knows in what 
direction the muzzle of his gun is pointed may be puzzled if it is accidentally 
discharged ; he is rarely disconcerted, never flurried or alarmed. 

The state of complete self-possession is acquired by the practice of always 

446 The Gun and its Development. 

treating the gun as loaded. There is time for a shooter to consider if every shot 
he fires is aimed in a safe direction, this without interfering with the rapidity or 
accuracy of the ami, provided he has previously noted in which direction he may 
fire with safety. 

The beginner should first practise the handling of an unloaded gun until he 
can bring it up sharply and well to cover any point at which he is looking. In 
shooting, as in other sports, ease of movement is the first requirement, and this 
is only attained by practice drill. 

To become proficient in the use of the gun, it is advisable to handle a gun for a 
few minutes every day in the shooting season, and at least once a week in spring 
and summer. 

For this drill it is best to take a good position, such as that of a crack shot at 
the trap (see illustration on p. 462) the left foot should be slightly in advance, the 
knees straight, the body bent very slightly forward from the hips, the left shoulder 
brought well forward, which allows a longer reach with the left hand. The gun 
must be grasped firmly with the right hand, the forefinger on the trigger ; the left 
hand must be got as far forward as will permit of the gun being quickly mani- 
pulated, the gun being held well across the body. The left hand well forward 
gives a better command over the gun, especially with respect to its elevation, but if 
too far forward it retards a change of aim from left to right. 

In taking a double rise from traps, or in making a right and left at game, it is 
advisable to swing the body with the gun, and sometimes to change the position of 
the feet also. When time allows of this, the shooter will be always in the same 
position with respect to his object. The change of position can, with practice, be 
accomplished without any loss of time, and the advantages are important. There 
is greater certainty of aim, and the firing is easier than when the upper half of the 
body is swung round from the hips. 

For marks use something distinctive. A red or black seal, on a white card, is 
as good as anything. These should be fixed at different heights, and if indoors 
two should be at least twelve feet apart. Standing as illustration on p. 441, 
look at one of the marks and bring the gun quickly to the shoulder, pressing it 
firmly into position in doing so. The muzzles of the barrels should cease their 
motion just under the mark at which you were looking. Put up the gun similarly 
to other marks, changing from left to right, and high to low, at irregular intervals, 
until convinced that when your gun is brought to the shoulder it is directed 
automatically to the point desired. 

To pull the trigger so as not to change the aim, let the forefinger be well bent. 

ffoiy TO Use the Gun. 447 

the first joint resting lightly on the trigger, the other joints being held free of the 
gun. The trigger must be pressed, not jerked, or the alignment of the gun may be 
altered thereby. Snapping off the gun with a fired case in the chamber will do the gun 
no injury (the use of "dummy" snap caps is recommended for this purpose) and 
will enable you to determine whether or not the pulling of the trigger affects your 

Next try a few shots in the open, either at a wall or a shot-proof screen. If 
the mark is fairly in the centre of the group of shot, practice at moving objects 
may be commenced. 

It is also good practice to walk up to a certain distance, and upon reaching it 
to raise the gun and fire immediately. When this can be done well, learn to fire 
the gun when on the march, or nearly so that is to say, bring the gun to the 
shoulder at the same time that your left foot goes forward with your body into 
position. This can be practised until you can be certain of the mark without 
breaking your regular walk, except for the very instant of firing. 

Practise until both barrels can be fired with accuracy as quickly as your watch 
ticks " One, two." 

The main point is to get a good, quick, correct aim, and to fire as the gun 
reaches the shoulder. This does not mean that the gun is to be fired in a hurried 
or haphazard manner, but when the object is in range the gun must be raised and 
fired in a single movement. The shooter who attempts to follow the object by 
following round with the game is a dangerous shot, as will be fully explained later, 
and cannot become an adept shot until he learns a different method. 

There must be no practice at birds or other animals not in motion. Practice 
at the target is preferable to this sort of shooting, as from it something can be 


Before treating of the art of wing-shooting and its acquirement, a {&\m words on 
the carrying and use of the gun in the field will not be out of place. The safest 
method of carrying a loaded gun in the field is to place it, top rib down, on either 
shoulder {see illustration on p. 444). Other safe positions upon suitable occasions are : 
Under the right arm, the muzzle down ; across the breast, muzzle high, and well to the 
front ; the muzzle raised, the left side of the stock against the right hip ; at the " trail" 
that is, grasped in the right hand, the arm at full length, and the gun horizontal. 

When standing for driven birds, expecting a shot at game in sight, take a 
position as recommended for trap-shooting; when waiting, hold the gun in one of 

44^ The Gun and its Development. 

the above-mentioned positions, or take one of the positions illustrated, or 
vary them. 

The gun should be carried at full cock, and if hammerless, with the safety off. 
Under ordinary conditions, it is better to unload a breech-loader when getting over 
a fence, crawling through a gap, or jumping a ditch. Even with hammer-guns 
(most top-levers will open at full-cock, and all should) it is easy to take out the 
cartridges. Changing the hammers from full- to half-cock is a very dangerous 
practice, and manipulating the safety-bolt of the hammerless lessens the risk, but 
does not absolutely remove it. 

The author has seen a man fall in getting over a five-barred gate ; luckily he had 
previously unloaded his gun. One may come to grief getting over a sheep hurdle 
or at an iron fence ; the simpler the obstacle the more careless one is apt to be. 

Before putting a gun out of hand, as through a fence, gate, or over a wall, or 
handing it to another person -unload. 

Wire fencing is a great nuisance to shooters ; both hands are often required to 
negotiate it properly. Unload the gun before attempting to cross it. 

Loaded guns in boats and vehicles are an element of danger. 

To load a gun, there are several safe positions which are also convenient. In 
closing the gun the barrels often swerve to the left. This is especially the case 
when tight-fitting cartridges are used or the gun is cocked by the action of closing 
the gun, and care must therefore be taken that the gun is not brought directly 
across the body. Let the left hand grasp the gun at a long distance from the 
breech ; it gives one greater power, and facilitates both the opening and the closing 
of the gun. If an ejector is not used, two loaded cartridges may be taken up and 
held between the first and second and second and third fingers of the right hand, 
whilst the fired cases are withdrawn by the thumb and forefinger of the same hand. 

The proper position to load a breech-loader is with muzzles pointing to the 
earth, for it not unfrequently happens that in dry weather and when using black 
gunpowder, flakes of the fouling will fall down into the breech action, when the 
barrels are higher than the breech, upon the gun being opened. The fouling, by 
lying in the angle of the action, prevents the gun from closing perfectly. This is 
often very annoying to the shooter, who, seeing that the bolts or the lever do not 
snap home, imagines the gun is broken ; or if he be careless, and fire the gun in such 
a state, it may allow the breech action to be blown open, being but imperfectly 
bolted, and thereby result in a serious accident to the user and his companions. 

In no case should the finger touch the trigger until the gun is in the act 
of being raised to the shoulder. Hammers should never be left resting on a cap or 

Ifoiy TO Use the Gun. 


striker when the gun is loaded ; let the hammers be carried at full cock. Look 
through the barrels before loading the first time after creeping through a fence, and 
after putting the gun out of hand for any purpose. If one barrel is fired repeatedly 
without discharging the other, it is ad- 
visable to take out the unfired cartridge 
occasionally, to ascertain whether the top 
wad has moved from position, or place 
the same in the barrel which is fired first. 
With thin brass cases the starting of the 
charge is more likely to occur than with 
paper cases having a proper turn-over. 


Much is performed automatically by 
the nerve-compelled muscles ; this in- 
tuition varies in degree with different 
persons. The shooter must look at the 
bird or other moving object, and depend 
upon his own muscles to correctly align 
the gun ; his eye will correct his error, just 
as a boy watching a cricket-ball will put 
his hand where he knows the ball will be 
at a given moment of time, and does not 
need to look at his hand. 

The physiology of shooting was cleverly 
stated by Dr. W. J. Fleming in a letter 
to the Field of February 19th, 1887 a 
letter which the author regrets he cannot 
reproduce in full, and can but sum- 
marise indifferently. He has demonstrated 
by actual experiment that what is known 
as " personal error " in the observation of 
objects is an important factor in calcu- 
lating time or distance ; astronomers, for 

instance, need to allow for this "personal error" in recording the time of 
a star's appearance at a given point. If two distinct lights are so placed that 
either may appear or disappear instantly, different observers vary in their ability to 

Easy and Safe Position Waiting for Driven 

4 So The Gun and its Development. 

quickly determine which light is shown, and record it by the depression of a 
key; the time required varied from i-iooth to 6-iooths of a second. If it be 
assumed that instead of light appearing a game bird is the object visible, it follows 
that before any person can aim his gun at it, at least i-iooth of a second of 
time will elapse, whilst another person, equally quick in aligning his gun, will not 
be cognisant of the object seen until upwards of 6-iooths of a second have passed. 
Consequently it follows that the allowance which one person would rightly make in 
order to hit the object would not be correct for another person ; for, taking the two 
extremes, the object may have moved but 6 inches before known as seen by one, 
and 3 feet before known as seen by the other. Dr. Fleming also says : 

"Another important point in connection with this matter is the iniluence, noted by all ob- 
servers, which food, stimulants, and sedatives have in altering the figures for each individual. The 
effects vary in different persons, and this goes far to account for some men shooting better before, 
others after, lunch, for some men being unable to shoot if they smoke, others unable to shoot 
if they do not. I have tried to show that each must be a law to himself, and therefore, I trust, 
helped some men who have failed to get good results by following the rules of their mentors." 

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of optics knows that before seeing an 
object that is visible several physiological processes are automatically performed b 
the organs of sight. Its position and its distance from the observer are estimated 
by the other processes, mainly by the adjustments his eyes require to make to see 
clearly, compared with previous experience. The principal adjustments are the 
amount of convergence of the two eyes required to bring their optical axis to a 
point at the object, and the amount of accommodation necessary to bring the image 
of the bird to a sharp focus in the retina. These adjustments are made by muscles 
both within and without the eye, and they inform of the amount by the muscular 
sense, that same sense which informs whether we have one ounce or a pound weight 
in our hands. The muscular sense may be trained ; it enables sportsmen to judge 
accurately of distances, as letter-sorters and others judge of weights to a nicety. As 
it is dependent upon previous experience it does not follow that the sportsman who 
can tell whether a partridge is thirty or fifty yards distant will know as well as a sailor 
how many leagues distant is a vessel, nor can the letter-sorter estimate the weight 
of a bullock. Muscular sense differs in quantity and quality with individuals, and 
is a matter for special training. The sportsman who wishes to become a good shot 
must observe carefully and practise constantly. The ability to shoot well is a special 
gift to some, and though it may be acquired by all, it is possible only to indicate how 
the skilful use of the shot-gun may be developed. A sportsman may be a first-rate 
shot, yet unable to explain how he has acquired an unerring aim ; some attribute it 

How TO Use the Gun. 451 

to one style of aiming, others to a different method. Many discussions take place 
amongst sportsmen and experts as to the correct method of aligning the gun, and 
the advocates in the sporting papers of the various styles of shooting detail circum- 
stantially the most opposite experiences as the best. 


It is not the intention of the author to enter into a long dissertation upon the 
various merits and disadvantages of " holding on " and " holding ahead." It must 
be confessed that the advocates of the last method have theoretically the best 
argument, as the following figures prove : 

The average speed at which game birds fly may be taken at forty miles per 

hour, which means that a bird flying across the shooter at that speed will have 

travelled about 12 inches before the quickest shooter can have brought his gun to 

position and pulled the trigger. The following "delays" may be assumed as 

unavoidable : 

Time occupied in becoming aware of the game, i- to 6-iooths sec. 

Time occupied in raising the gun, 25-iooths sec. 

Time occupied in pulling trigger, i -200th sec. 

Time occupied in igniting charge, i -200th sec. 

Time occupied in shot travelling 40 yards, 14-iooths sec. 

during which the bird will have travelled 10 ft. 6 in., or thereabouts; and to hit a 
mark 10 ft. 6 in. to the right or left of the mark aimed at, the muzzle of the barrel 
would require to be more than 3 in. to the right or left of the line of aim. As 
pointed out previously, if, instead of being able to pull the trigger in yJotb of a 
second, the shooter needs yf ^ths of a second, the bird will have flown 16 in. farther 
than is stated above. 

Even whilst the charge of shot, having left the muzzle, is on its way, sufficient 
time elapses for a fast-flying bird to travel a considerable distance ; for the first 
15 yards or so, it may be taken that for every yard the shot advances the bird 
travels 2 in. The shot does not maintain its high velocity, and, providing the bird 
does, we have at 40 yards' range nearly i in. flown in the time the shot advances 
I ft., and at 60 yards i| in. flown for every foot advance made by the shot. 

Allowing Y^oths of a second as the time necessary for performing the involuntary 
and voluntary actions of seeing the mark, determining to shoot, raising the gun and 
firing, and also the small fraction of time required for the ignition and combustion 
of the powder and its passage through the barrel, we find that with the 12-bore and 

452 The Gun and its Development. 

standard charge at fifteen yards' range, a bird flying at forty miles per hour will have 
traversed 5 ft. 6 in. before the shot reaches that range from the gun. 

If 20 yards, then 6 ft. 6 in. 
If 30 yards, then 8 ft. 9 in. 
If 40 yards, then 11 ft. 5 in. 
If 50 yards, then 14 ft. 8 in. 
If 60 yards, then 19 ft. 4 in. 

A great deal of difference is caused by the manner of bringing up the gun. 
Some sportsmen acquire the habit of bringing up the gun with a swing in the direc- 
tion the mark is moving ; others bring up the gun and follow the object ; whilst the 
majority of good shots put up the gun and are supposed to jerk it ahead of the 
game, and fire it before the latter motion has ceased. Those who shoot with the 
gun on the swing, and intuitively increase the speed of the " swing," so that the 
gun races the game, and beats it, never require to " hold ahead." Those 
who hold on, by shooting promptly, prove the truth of the theory that it is necessary 
for the hand and eye to act in unison ; whilst they who hold ahead, although 
agreeing that the hand must follow the eye, yet so shoot that the hand must point 
the gun in a different direction from the object on which the eye is fixed. If the 
hand can be entrusted intuitively to direct the gun to any required distance above 
or before the object upon which the shooter's gaze is fixed, well and good ; perfect 
shooting will result. 

The following hints as to aiming, etc., will be appreciated by all who have con- 
vinced themselves that they can, by practice, aim ahead of moving game : 

The young shooter, and all who desire to improve their shooting, should practise 
in the following manner : Commence by shooting at slow-flying birds, as pheasants 
(flushed, not driven), pigeons whose wings have been slightly clipped, or at rabbits 
frisking on the sward. Let all shots be at short range twenty to thirty yards. 
When the bird gets up, the gun is to be brought quickly to the shoulder and fired 
whilst both eyes are looking at the bird. 

Birds going straight away, and neither very high nor skimming low down, 
should all be killed, as the aim is the same as for a snap-shot for a fixed mark. 
Birds crossing may be missed, probably because the shooter fires behind them. By 
just how much the gun will be pointed ahead of the cross-flying birds may not be 
actually observed, but it must be known by the muscular sense, and if the shooter, 
whilst looking at a moving object in front of a wall or screen, consciously directs 
the gun to the right or left, according as the movement is right or left, he will 
quickly educate the muscles to direct the gun to any distances right or left of 

How TO Use the Gun. 453 

the object seen, and further practice will make him proficient in altering the 
elevation to any desired extent. 

It is always necessary to keep the eyes steadily gazing upon the bird, even 
when the aim is into space as many as three, eight, or twenty feet ahead of 
moving objects. My estimate of twenty feet may differ greatly from that of 
another, but practice at various ranges and previous experience of similar shots 
will direct me, as it will everyone who follows these instructions, to aim the 
gun intuitively in that direction where the charge of shot and the game simul- 
taneously bisect the one the line of flight, the other the line of fire so long as 
the bird is seen. 

When practising wing-shooting there will be many misses, of course. After each 
miss the shooter should consider why the object was missed, and, whatsoever cause 
may be assigned, let him do his best to guard against it in the future ; if a cross 
shot, and he was behind the object, he must determine to direct his gun farther 
forward when another similar shot presents itself. If he does this and continues 
to shoot without being hurried, flustered, or disheartened, he will steadily improve 
in his shooting ; but to go on missing, time after time, without giving a thought 
as to the cause, will do no good whatever. 

When a bird rises, follow its exact course with your eyes, and when it is in the 
best position for shooting, bring up the gun from below or behind it, and if your 
hands act in perfect harmony with the eye and the will, as you have schooled them 
to do, the gun will be aligned instinctively ; then press the trigger so as to feel 
recoil at the instant the object is in the position indicated in the illustrations. 
If you stop the gun at the moment of firing, you are sure to be behind, for your 
muscles have to race to get ahead, and if you stop the action at the moment you will 
the pull of the trigger you stop it long before the shot leaves the barrel, and much 
longer before it reaches the line of flight of the game. 

It is a good plan to continue the swing of the weapon whilst firing ; by so doing 
you send the charge of shot in the direction in which the gun is moving ; but if you 
think you have acquired the habit of stopping the swing at the moment of firing 
and kill well, there is no need of changing your method. It is a mistake to bring 
up the gun so that it . has to be lowered again in order to cover the object, or 
to bring it from before the object, though this latter plan is sometimes necessarily 
followed, as when the shooter facing No. 2 trap gets a quarterer to the left from 
No. 5 ; but ordinarily follow the flight of the bird, if for the fraction of a second 
only, then bring up the gun and fire. 

The allowances which will have to be made, as already explained^ can only be 


The Gun and its Development. 

determined by actual experience. The following general indications may, however, 
be of some service : 

The straight going-away shot at birds should be point blank at any distance. 

At ground game going straight away, shoot over the animal. Of approaching 
shots : at birds shoot dead on, unless the bird is very high, when aim well in front. 
If coming over at long range, but low, make less allowance, or wait until it can be 
shot at a pleasant angle nearer the shooter. 

An approaching low shot, when a driven partridge or an " incomer " trom the 
pigeon traps : aim under the bird rather than over it. Birds which cannot be shot 
as they approach, owing to the position of beaters, etc., must be allowed to pass 
over, and will furnish similar shots to those obtained by walking up to the birds, 
but their flight will probably be much quicker, and they will be higher ; the bird 

Showing the Alignment of Gun for. Various Shots when practising the "Hold-on" Principle. 

must, therefore, be shot well-under, i.e. actually in front of it. A bird that has 
passed and flies low is a more difficult shot ; the shooter must get ahead of it, and 
this is only to be done by shooting over it. 

Birds crossing to the right are more difficult to hit than those crossing to the left. 
It is often advisable to move the position by turning one-quarter round on the 
right foot before raising the gun when there is a quick flyer to the right and you are 
shooting along or on the right extremity of a line. Longer shots may be made at 
crossing than at straight-away birds. 

Some quartering shots are very easy, others most difficult it depends upon the 
speed and angle of the flight. 

Ascending shots are difficult the most if at short range and flying quickly. 
Aim high. 

u u i: ^'p 
c lu 5 -s b 

g in >,J3 - 

o2 ^^ a> 



























45^ The Gun and its .Development. 

If the bird is well away and going straight or quartering, to get before it, i.e. to 
hit, it will probably be necessary to aim high. 

Aim at the head of a pheasant rising ; indeed, all game ot which the head can be 
seen should be shot at as though the head, not the body, were the sportsman's mark. 

Shoot at the head of all ground game. It often happens that incoming and 
motionless ground game is shot over, and neither hares nor rabbits should be shot 
at when more than forty yards distant, nor above thirty if going straight away. 

The prettiest of shots, and difficult ones to make, are the perpendicular shots. 
In attempting these shots bring the left hand much nearer the breech than is usual 
for any firing at an angle of 45 or less, and aim in front of the bird if approaching, 
and under it if going away. 

Occasionally shots may be had at birds and hares descending, chiefly when 
shooting on the hillside, and these shots are difficult, the sportsman generally 
shooting over his game. Low flying wild-fowl, wood-pigeons coming into lofty trees, 
hawks, crows, and vermin, generally afford different shooting practice, by which the 
sportsman will profit. In order to become an expert shot, if other game is not 
readily available, starlings, fieldfares, larks, and even sparrows may be used as marks, 
and much learned from shooting at them. 

To practise systematically, nothing is so handy as trap shooting almost a 
separate art, but one which may be followed with beneficial results even by expert 
game shots. 


Snap-shooting and the "hold-on" principle of aiming are synonymous. Some 
fail to see how anyone firing a snap-shot as they understand it can possibly hold 
ahead with any amount of certainty, for the space of time which the opportunity 
aff'ords in many cases is only sufficient to take in the situation and fire ; it will not 
allow even for a mental calculation. Many favour the ''hold-on" and snap-shooting 
system because it is prettier, safer, and, in the opinion of most, surer, and it offers, 
to say the least, many more chances of a full bag than the other way of aiming. 
First, it will be admitted that the style is far better in snap-shooting than in the 
"hold ahead" practice ; secondly, it is safer, in so far that there is no tendency to 
" poking," which the hold ahead and slow calculating shots lean to, even though 
a little a little which with young shooters is likely to become more. It must be 
remembered that " the man who hesitates is lost " ; hesitation in firing, at any rate, 
means loss of game and perhaps everything else except experience to the shooter. 

An instance of the danger of the "poking " aim once warned us of the dangers 
of the system even when practised by a sportsman and regular shooter of twenty- 

How TO Use the Gun. 457 

five years' standing who, on one occasion, allowed himself to be carried away by his 
excitement to the extent of " following up " a partridge at least three parts of a circle 
before firing. The bird rose on his left and flew low across his front, quartering to 
the right, until it had nearly completed the circle before it fell to the long-expected 
shot. The shooter had his gun to the shoulder the whole of the time the bird was 
on the wing, and in following up and trying to make the proper allowance his gun 
covered many of his companions, the beaters, and dogs, although, in the end, the 
bird only was shot ; the attitudes of the shooter appeared extremely ludicrous to the 
others of the party after the muzzles of the gun were directed towards a safe quarter. 
Thirdly, very many more opportunities occur for snap-shots to one accustomed to 
take them than to one practising other methods for instance, when shooting cover 
either in line, alone, or by beaters. 

After reading those paragraphs in this chapter relating to the physiology of 
shooting and optics, the reader will probably understand more of the reasons why 
some favour the " snap or hold-on " system ; it is, moreover, much easier to 
become proficient at this style than at the other. Not much is to be said in 
favour of copying a good shot's style ; everyone is built differently, and has different 
degrees of muscular sense ; therefore everyone should find out for himself the 
method that suits him. To give one confidence there is only one necessity, and 
that is, that the shooter can rely on his gun coming up to the shoulder exactly 
to the same position every time. 


The accompanying illustrations show several positions in shooting and the 
proper alignment of the gun for game taking different directions of flight ; these 
will be found to be pretty nearly correct, and at any rate will serve as a basis upon 
which young shooters may begin. The illustrations in this chapter showing positions 
of the gun for different shots will also be some kind of a guide for the beginner 
as to the fit and handling of his gun. It will be seen that the shooters follow 
the old style of allowing the stock of the gun at the comb to lie against the cheek ; 
by this one is able to tell that the gun is in exact position. If the shooter has good 
command over it, he should fire the instant the stock touches his face ; by always 
adopting one position for the head, shoulders, body, and feet, with the touch of the 
stock on the cheek as an indication for the time to fire, one will very soon make 
good progress in the art of snap-shooting. 

Some quick shots, however, anticipate the time it takes to fire the gun and pull 
the trigger whilst raising the gun to the shoulder. This requires considerable 
practice to perfect, and the gun must, of course, be within an ace of the proper 


The Gun and its Development. 

position ; but, however the practice may be deprecated, it is certainly an fait for 
trap- as well as general snap-shooting. 

Showing Position for Ordinary Straight-away and Rising Shots, 

For high overhead shots it is not advisable to shoot at a greater angle than 
is easy to the shooter; some men, even of iifty years old, can get back so as 
jeally to shoot game that has passed over them several yards. 

How TO Use the Gun, 


For cross-shots, although in theory the gun should be held ahead, in some 
cases as much as 7 ft. at forty yards, yet in practice it is found that in holding 

Bad Position not to be imitated. 

on to the head, as on page 454, is quite sufficient allowance to kill, though in 
many cross-shots at any angle not above 45 degrees the gun is always brought up 


The Gun and its Development. 

from behind. It may be that the swing has the effect of throwing the muzzles 
more in that direction than is intended by aHgnment. If the gun is fired before the 
motion is stayed, tlie shot will, of course, fly in that direction in which the gun was 
swinging when the charge of shot left the muzzle. 

Continental Style of Shooting. 

The sportsmanlike use of the shot-gun implies much more than is included in 
good marksmanship. 

The sportsman not only uses his gun, but must exercise his brains in order to 
use it properly. It is important to acquire an accurate judgment of distance in 
order to determine what is, and what is not, a sporting range at which to fire ; it is 
also advisable to observe carefully the result of each sh-ot,^ and mark where- the 

ffoiv TO Use the Gun. 461 

game was struck : this may save much time in retrieving wounded birds ; but for 
the old-fashioned art of woodcraft there is little demand now, and good and safe 
marksmanship is considered a better qualification. 

The modern style of shooting is the natural result of present-day methods of 
agriculture. The scythe and reaping machine have succeeded the sickle, and the 
stubbles are now shorn so close that they do not afford cover to partridges, and 
when partridges resort to them, as they do, to feed, at certain hours of the day, it is 
generally quite impossible to approach within range, either with or without dogs. 

The sowing of root crops in rows has also spoiled the chance of the dogs in 
the turnips. The birds sneak out of the field as soon as the men and dogs enter it, 
as the game can see from one end of the field to the other, and cunningly escape 
unobserved. The sportsman who is determined to have some shooting resorts to 
driving, by which means he accomplishes his purpose, and also makes the game 
much more wild. 

The sportsman who is determined to shoot over dogs and hunt his game in the 
old-fashioned way will find full instructions in the many books on shooting which 
have been published, but will need considerable experience before becoming 
successful. The fact that changed conditions have greatly handicapped his 
chances, and have forced sportsmen to other methods, may not deter him from 
persevering in his method, and it is quite possible, with hard work and much 
cunning, to out-manoeuvre a few coveys by what practically amounts to tiring them 
out ; no one will grudge the sportsman whatever success he ultimately achieves. 

The sportsman whose shoot is small and the game not being hand-reared 
scarce and wild, will be unable to practise driving to any advantage ; the best plan 
will be to walk up to the birds as afterwards described. The drive in the Midlands 
and Eastern and Southern Counties is the best manner for a proprietor or 
lessee to show his game, and it is generally the only way of securing a fair 
proportion of it. 

To organise a drive upon a fairly large scale the assistance of many men as 
beaters will be required ; the plan is therefore only suited to a large party, and the 
management is a business requiring much knowledge, forethought, and preparation. 
The methods employed with the greatest chance of success are detailed in such a 
book as " Shooting," of the Badminton Series, to which the reader must refer 
for further information as to the management, or what may be called the 
" engineering," of work of this kind. The host or other responsible director, if 
he does what is considered to be his duty to the shooters, will have an onerous 
task to perform. 


The Gun and its Development. 

As to the shooters, they will learn very little of woodcraft or of the habits and 
habitat of the game, but they may have ample opportunities for testing their skill 
as marksmen and of observing the peculiarities of the flight of frightened birds ; 
and they may rightly enjoy the day's sport, in which they do not so much 
participate as to use a Gallicism assist. 

J. A. R. Elliott's Position at the Trap. 

The shooter called upon to take part in a day's sport of this kind will find, if 
partridges be the game sought, that the keepers or their assistants have, previous 
to the arrival of the guns, driven birds into convenient fields with sufficient cover 
to hold them that is, with a growth which will hide the birds. The shooters 
are then posted behind fences, or even artificial screens, which will conceal 

Hon^ TO Use the Gun. 463 

themj they should be such as, whilst hiding the shooters, will permit them to 
observe the flight of the birds for from 60 to 100 yards of their nearest approach. 

The shooter should be informed of the location of the other shooters and the 
direction in which the beaters will advance, and then go at once to his stand and 

Captain Brewer's Position at the Trap. 

wait quietly and expectant until the warning " mark over " of the beaters informs 
him that birds are on the wing. 

All alert then, he will, as soon as any bird comes within range and within 
his circuit, be ready to fire. At all times he ought to be able to fire at the birds 
as they approach ; successful work cannot be done if he is not. Occasionally, 
perhaps, two shooters will be stationed together; then one will take birds on the 

464 The Gun and its Development 

left and the other birds on the right a rule which must be loyally observed, and to 
which the only exception is the firing at your companion's birds after he has fired 
both barrels and the birds are in range. 

In partridge driving the stations are frequently changed. The object of driving 
is to break up the coveys as early as possible in the day, marking the direction 
of the escaped birds, and putting them over the guns again and again in successive 
drives, so that often a covey from which little is bagged in the morning will all be 
in the bag before night. 

Pheasant driving is pursued, not so much of necessity for securing shots at 
the birds, as is the case with partridge driving, but for the object of obtaining 
sporting shots. 

The drive is, or should be, so managed that the birds are forced to rise at 
some distance from the shooters, and approach at a good height, and fly faster 
than if put up near the guns in hedgerows or cover. Here, again, the shooter will 
be called upon to exercise his skill as a wing shot. There will be little walking 
no hunting in the true sense and the man who can keep cool, shoot deliber- 
ately, and observes the usual etiquette of the shooting field, will probably enjoy 
good sport, unspoiled by blank covers or too wary birds. 

In cover shooting, some guns are usually told off to walk up with the beaters. 
These do not, as a rule, get so much shooting, or such pretty shooting, as those 
posted forward; they see more of the working of the "battue," and require to be 
even more careful not only as to the direction in which they shoot, but when to fire 
and what to fire at. 

Grouse driving has become very popular with all able to rent or subscribe to 
a moor. The guns are stationed in batteries, butts, or shelters, especially con- 
structed for the purpose. In Derbyshire they are occasionally posted behind the 
stone walls common to the country. Fifteen to fifty beaters will drive, com- 
mencing from half a mile to two miles from the guns. Driven grouse fly at great 
speed, and afford excellent opportunities for a display of skilful marksmanship. 

The young shooter will do well to observe most punctiliously the accepted 
conventionalities of the shooting field. Smartness of manner is considered 
very bad form. A young man is not supposed to be an unerring shot, nor 
expected to tell good stories. If a shooting companion, older than yourself, 
and a shot of established reputation, fires both barrels at a bird and misses, it is 
better to let the bird go, even though within range, than "drop" it, to your 
companion's mortification. You have life before you, and may get other oppor- 
tunities. Do not shoot to wound game, but to kill it. If a wounded bird struggles 

Ho IV TO Use the Gun. 465 

in front of you from a companion's gun, drop it if you can. Explain to the 
first shooter that you did so to save time in gathering it, or remark simply " Yours." 

The compilers of books of instructions to young shooters deem it necessary to 
advise beginners against calling attention to the clever shots they make. It has 
never been the writer's luck to meet with young sportsmen guilty of this practice ; 
they are prone to remark "Clever shot," or "That was well done," when someone 
else has brought down a difficult bird, when perhaps absolute silence would have 
been preferable. They will talk of their performances at other times ; and so, 
unfortunately, will older men who ought to know better. 

In order to stand well in with shooting companions, and your host, or his 
keepers, avoid risky shots, make yourself well acquainted with your gun's power, 
shoot at nothing not well within its range, and do not bang away at game too close. 
Learn to judge distances accurately, and you will make few mistakes on this score. 
Give fair play to the game and to your fellow-shooters, and if a man near you is 
getting more shooting than he can manage, whilst you have none, it is his place to 
call you to help him, not yours to edge up to him. Think of this when you have 
more than your full share of luck. 

When walking in line up to birds, or with the beaters in covert, mind and keep 
to that line. It is dangerous to you and your companions to be either ahead or 
behind it. 

When shooting with one friend, take the birds in the covey on your side, and 
ground game directly before you and on your own side. 

To fire at low birds in covert is always very dangerous. In the same way. low 
birds coming towards you from the line of beaters must not be shot at unless you 
know that the beaters are well beyond the range of your gun. 

Do not fire at anything you imagine to be a rabbit moving in covert ; this is the 
way dogs, foxes, and sometimes beaters, get shot. 

Do not waste your time and that of your companions by insisting upon a bird 
you thought you saw fall being retrieved. 

When shooting alone, or over dogs, the sportsman has greater latitude as to 
what, when, where, and how to shoot. 

The shooting of grouse over dogs is fully treated in all old sporting works and 
several modern ones. The well-known authority upon sporting dogs, " H. H.," 
has written an excellent series of articles which appeared in Land and Water, and 
has since been published by Sampson, Low, Marston and Co., under the title of 
"The Scientific Education of the Dog." 

To get partridges that is, to make a bag when not shooting over dogs, it is 

466 The Gun and its Development. 

necessary to lose no time, and in order to avoid loss of time there should be a good 
dog at the service of each gun in the line. This dog preferably should be worked 
by the shooter, but there should be always a steady dog, not of the dashing sort, 
kept in reserve. The proceeding will then be as follows : The line advances and 
birds drop to the gun. Do not stop the line, but as soon as it has advanced to 
within 30 or 40 yards of the fall of the birds, send forward the dog that belongs to, 
or has been allotted to, the gun that has killed. This dog will have marked the 
bird if he is worth his "grub," and he will have it in the keeper's or his master's 
hands before the line has reached its fall, and so be ready to be sent for a second 
bird before the ground is tainted by humanity that is, before the fall of the bird 
has been crossed by the line. Sometimes the best of dogs will fail in this quick 
find, and it is then that the dog and man in reserve should come to a stick stuck 
up at the fall of the bird by the keeper in attendance on the gun who dropped the 
bird, whose dog should be called off, so that the line may proceed. 

In the early morning the partridges are usually to be found feeding in the 
stubbles, and as it is next to useless to attempt to get within range of them there, 
it will save time if two or three men will walk the stubbles before the shooting is 
commenced, and thus send the birds to better cover. 

A mixed line of shooters, beaters, and keepers is then formed, and if game be 
plentiful it is advisable to have as many retrievers as there are shooters, as better 
speed will be made if beaters or keepers are not occupied in going from one gun to 
the other for birds that ought to have been retrieved at once ; a badly broken dog 
will, however, prove the greatest nuisance which can be introduced into the party. 
The beaters should also mark as nearly as possible where each bird has fallen, 
and in this they can be aided by the man who shot ; when two men (beaters for 
choice) from different positions on the base line of the triangle mark a towered 
bird, and each walks his correct line towards it, the proceeding will frequently save 
a prolonged search by confirming accurately, or rectifying an error in, the marking, 
for the two lines will cut each other at the exact fall of the bird. 

In turnips, partridges are always more easily approached if the party make their 
progress across the drills. If it is preferable to walk in a line with the drills in 
order to drive the partridges towards any other particular cover, each man should 
change frequently a few steps to the right and left of the drill in his direct line. 

When there is no object to be gained by driving the birds in any particular 
direction, the line will wheel at the end of the field and take the next strip, otherwise 
the steps may be retraced over the ground already traversed, and the line re-formed 
so that the field may be worked uniformly in the one direction ; as the field is 

Ifoit^ TO Use the Gun. 467 

worked to the finish the flank men of the line will advance so as to hem in any birds 
which may have moved to the extremity of the field and are unwilling to leave it. 

The use of kites is said to have the effect of driving the game to other ground* 
and should, therefore, be used rarely by proprietors. Lessors sometimes stipulate 
that kites shall not be used. 

Shootings leased of farmers cannot be well preserved without great expense, 
and some farms are so badly situated that the game bred upon them frequents neigh- 
bouring lands in preference. Some lessors obtain high prices for shooting which it 
is almost impossible to work with satisfactory results. More game can sometimes 
be bagged from land the shooting rights of which are sold for sixpence an acre, 
than from other ground in the same locality for which five times the price is 
obtained. The price paid for shooting bears no relation whatever to its value. 

Where the shooting is small, a couple of hundred acres or so, and the land well 
farmed, it is advisable to stipulate that at least a few acres shall be sown with 
something that will afford suitable cover to the birds late in the season. Turnips, 
potatoes, clover, mustard, etc., are good ; but to hold the birds late in the season, 
if there is no natural cover on the shooting, a patch of buckwheat will afford that 
protection and shelter the birds prefer ; grass, furze, fern, ample hedgerows, and 
some planted cover will attract partridges, and in order to increase the stock the 
birds, except cock-birds, should not be shot down close. 

If an attempt is made to rear pheasants there must be a "" pheasantry " and 
suitable plantation on the shooting, and at least a couple of men to look after 
the birds ; a trouble when increasing the stock of pheasants on a small shooting is 
the greater relative expense compared with that of doing the work on a larger scale, 
and the difificulty of keeping the birds at home. To raise pheasants for your 
neighbours' shooting is often unavoidable, and if the covert frequented by pheasants 
is made more attractive by often placing tempting food there, a stock may be 
increased by birds from adjacent coverts ; barley, beans, malt, raisins, etc., are used 
for this purpose, and it is said that a few hundred of common gooseberry-bushes 
planted as underwood make a first-rate cover. 

Hares are becoming scarce in this country ; they are always easy to hit, but 
not always to kill dead. They may be looked for in coverts, on fallows, grass-land, 
and amongst turnips. In Scotland the Alpine hare, a different variety, is plentiful, 
and these hares are driven owing to the nature of the ground. Good work is not 
so easy as some people seem to think. The gun has to keep absolutely still, and 
although it is easy to hit a single hare, the right time to shoot, so as to get off all 
your barrels with effect, is not what any novice can select with certainty. 

468. The Gun and its Development. 

The woodcock is, unfortunately, still more rarely found. When put up in thick 
cover, it is one of the most difficult birds to bag : if shot at when close, it will probably 
be smashed ; if the sportsman waits, it will be lost sight of in the covert, its turns 
to right and left being most erratic and unexpected. 

Rabbit shooting is the easiest to be obtained in this country, and there are 
very few people fond of shooting who cannot command at least a few days' sport 
of a friendly farmer or landowner. 

Rabbit shooting, the most generally practised of sports with the shot-gun, is 
the most dangerous, because the speed with which the rabbit bolts is provo- 
cative of random shooting. It is not uncommon for a rabbit to run between 
the shooter's legs and be shot within three yards of him by some reckless shooter 
on the alert for fur. In a warren or quarry a rabbit about to disappear over a ridge 
will be shot neatly just as the hat of a man on the other side becomes visible. 
When ferreting it is quite impossible to keep men from getting into places where, 
for their safety, they should not be. The young sportsman can more easily do 
irreparable damage when rabbiting than at any other sport, and must consequently 
use the utmost care to avoid accident. Always fire for the head of a rabbit. Shoot 
carefully in covert, and straight for the rabbit, or not at all. 

Another dangerous practice is the division of shooters by a substantial hedge, 
with dogs working the hedgerows : the rabbits will run out and straight along the 
hedge, and then run in again. It is unadvisable to shoot towards the hedge under 
any pretence ; dangerous to do so unless you know exactly the position of the 
man, or men, on the other side of it. 

If rabbits are put out properly and the shooters keep well back, good shots may 
be obtained when the rabbits make a run across the open for fresh cover. 

The young shooter may ruin his prospects as a sportsman by a single indis- 
cretion the making of a risky or a dangerous shot ; he will not be an acceptable 
companion to shooting men unless he endeavours to kill his game in a sportsmanlike 
manner, avoiding the wounding of game, and not firing at quite impossible 

The man who may be relied upon as safe to shoot with under every condition, 
and who, in addition, is better pleased by killing a few birds in a clean and 
sportsmanlike manner than in making a heavy bag, will have opportunities for 
obtaining sport denied, on principle, to others. 

Trap Shooting. 469 



The origin of trap shooting may be traced to the ancient pastime of popinjay 
shooting, a game practised by the ancient Greeks and the expert bowmen of 
mediaeval times. 

The popinjay was a stuffed parrot or fowl placed upon the top of a pole, and 
used as a target ; in some instances a living bird was used, a certain amount of 
liberty being given to it by the length of cord used to secure it to the pole. Homer, 
in the " Iliad," mentions popinjay shooting, a dove being the mark, and prizes 
being shot for. The Toxophilite Society during the last century held frequent 
meetings for popinjay shooting; the last recorded took place near High gate, in 
September, 1792. 

Pigeon shooting as a sport may be said to date from about the middle of this 
century, although there were occasional matches and contests earlier. The first 
handicap is said to have been shot upon Mr. Purdey's grounds at Willesden in 
1856, but previous to this there had been fashionable contests at the "Old Hats '' 
pubhc-house, on the Uxbridge Road at Ealing, near London. The " Old 
Hats " obtained its name from the fact that the pigeons used for the matches were 
placed in holes in the ground, and covered with old hats. The "Red House," 
at Battersea, was afterwards the favourite metropolitan resort for wager shooting. 
The first hona-fide Pigeon^Club was formed at Hornsey Wood House. Traps were 
first used here, and the fashionable pigeon gun of the period was a large-bore 
single gun, quickly superseded by the ordinary double-barrelled game gun. The 
illustration on page 470 is from a contemporary sketch of the grounds, used in 
" Stonehenge's " book, " Rural Sports." 

Since the days of the Hornsey Wood Club live pigeon shooting has been at 
times exceedingly popular, and clubs for the practice of this sport have been 
formed in all parts of the world. 

The Gun Club, London, is one of the best known, and was founded about 


Trap Shooting. 


1 86 1 by Sir G. East, Colonel Vansittart, and G. Battock, The rules of this Club, 
and of the " Hurlingham," of more recent formation, are almost identical, and are 
those generally adopted by the leading clubs at home and abroad. Of recent years 
the sport has declined in favour, both in this country and in the United States. 
The " Hurlingham " ground has recently been closed, while in America many of the 
States have entirely prohibited the trapping and subsequent shooting of pigeons. 

The Blue Rock Pigeon. 

The Inanimate Bird, or Clay Pigeon, has largely taken the place of the live bird, 
and when thrown from suitable traps it affords excellent practice, some of the 
newer pattern "birds" being exceptionally difficult to "kill." 


The pigeon generally employed for trap purposes is known as the Blue Rock. 
The best variety, the Lincolnshire Blue Rock, retains the wild nature of the 
common wild Rock Pigeon. The birds are fed in Lincolnshire by the farmers in 
winter time, who also raise cotes for them at a good distance from their other 
buildings, as the wilder the pigeons and the nearer the coast they are raised the 
stronger and more hardy they are. The true Blue Rock affords the best sport, 

472 The Gun and its Development. 

and is much the hardest to kill ; being small in the body, quick in flight at starting, 
tough in nature, and game to the death especially the hens. 

Other Blue Rocks are bred in Oxfordshire and Yorkshire in large quantities, but 
are inferior to the Lincolnshire birds. 

Many of the so-called Blue Rocks are also imported from Antwerp ; in fact the 
greater portion of the pigeons used for trap shooting are brought over from that 
port, and sold here as Blue Rocks. Some years ago a number of Blue Rocks were 
exported to France and Belgium for breeding purposes, and it is their offspring we 
now import ; the foreign climate has not, however, improved them, as they possess 
none of that gameness peculiar to the English bird. 

The real Rock is not always of the same colour and markings, but through some 
cross with the domestic pigeon there are white and copper-coloured Rocks, which 
differ only from the Blue Rocks in colour. 

The next best bird to the Blue Rock is the English Skimmer, which is chiefly 
employed at the second-rate clubs, as are also true Antwerp pigeons. 

Pigeons intended for trap shooting should not be used to being handled, and at 
the principal clubs several stringent rules are in force against any ill-treatment or 
mutilation of the birds. The purveyor to the club should find it to his interest to 
supply the best, that is, the strongest, healthiest birds, and the trapper should be the 
servant of the purveyor, so that it is to his interest that the birds fly strongly. The 
hampers used should be spacious and well ventilated, and a proper place provided 
for them under shelter or in the shade. The retrieved birds should not be placed 
on or near the hampers containing the living pigeons. The purveyor should 
provide good dogs for retrieving. The puller should be a club servant. 

Then, if the ground be properly laid out and arranged and the standard rules 
adhered to, any collusion as to the trapping of weak birds may be prevented, and 
any form of dishonesty, except the wilful missing of birds, may be guarded against. 

The pulling apparatus should be of the very best. Buss's is a very good one ; 
that used at Monte Carlo, and the Hurlingham pulling apparatus, are also good. The 
traps must not be too small and should work smoothly, being flush with the ground 
when pulled over. The cords or wires to operate them should be underground. 


Revised July, igoi. 

1. The Referee's decision shall be final. 

2. A miss-fire, if it occurs with first barrel, is no shot under any circumstances. 

3. If the miss-fire occurs with the second barrel, the shooter having failed to kill with his 
first, he may claim another bird ; but he must fire off the first barrel with a blank cartridge 
before firing the second, and he must not pull both triggers at the same time 

Trap Shooting. 473 

4. The shooter in a match or sweepstakes shall be at his shooting mark at the expiration 
of two minutes from the last shot, unless in the case of an accident, when the Referee 
shall decide what time shall be allowed to remedy the accident. 

5. The shooter's feet shall be behind the shooting mark until after his gun is discharged. If, 
in the opinion of the Referee, the shooter is baulked by any antagonist or looker on, or by the 
trapper, whether by accident or otherwise, he may be allowed another bird. 

6. The shooter, when he is at his mark ready to shoot, shall give the caution "Are you 
ready ? " to the puller, and then call " Pull." Should the trap be pulled without the word 
being given the shooter may take the bird or not, but if he fires the bird must be deemed to be 

7. If, on the trap being pulled, the bird does not rise, it is at the option of the shooter to 
take it or not; if not, he must declare it by saying "No bird"; but should he fire after 
declaring, it is not to be scored for or against him. 

8. If a bird once out of ground should return and fall dead within the boundary, it must 
be scored a lost bird. 

9. If the shooter advances to the mark and orders the trap to be pulled, and does not shoot 
at the bird, or his gun is not properly loaded, or does not go off owing to his own negligence, 
that bird is to be scored lost. If the gun should break in the act of firing it is " no bird " 
under any circumstances. 

10. A bird shot on the ground with the first barrel is " no bird," but it may be shot on the 
ground with the second barrel, if it has been fired at with the first barrel while on the wing ; 
but if the shooter misses with the first and discharges his second barrel, it is to be accounted a 
lost bird, in case of not falling within bounds. 

11. Only one person to be allowed to pick up the bird (or a dog, if the shooter will allow it), 
No instrument is to be used for this purpose. All birds must be gathered by the dog or 
trapper, and no member shall have the right to gather his own bird, or to touch it with his 
hand or gun. 

12. In Single Shooting, if more than one bird is liberated, the shooter may call " No bird," 
and claim another shot ; but if he shoots he must abide by the consequences. 

13. The shooter must not leave the shooting mark under any pretence to follow up any bird 
that will not rise, nor may he return to his mark after he has once quitted it, to fire his second 

14. In matches or in sweepstakes when shot is limited, any shooter found to have in his gun 
more shot than is allowed, is to be at once disqualified. 

15. Any shooter is compelled to unload his gun on being challenged ; but if the charge is 
found not to exceed the allowance, the challenger shall pay forthwith \ to the shooter. 

16. None but members can shoot except on the occasion of private matches. 

17. No wire cartridges or concentrators allowed, or other substance to be mixed with the shot. 

18. In all handicaps, sweepstakes, or matches, the standard bore of the gun is No. 12. 
Members shooting with less, to go in at the rate of half a yard for every bore less than 12 down 
to i6-bore. Eleven-bore guns to stand back half a yard from the handicap distance, and no 
guns over ii-bore allowed. 

19. The winner of a sweepstakes of the value of ten sovereigns, including his own stake, 
goes back two yards ; under that sum, one yard, provided there be over five shooters. Members 
saving or dividing in an advertised event will be handicapped accordingly. 

20. Should any member shoot at a distance nearer than that at which he is handicapped, it 
shall be scored " no bird " 

474 The Gun and its Development. 

21. That for the future the charge of powder is limited to four drachms Chilled shot and 
"sawdust" powder may be used. The weight of guns not to exceed 8 lbs. Size of shot 
restricted to Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8. Charge of shot limited to i^^ oz. 

22. All muzzle-loaders shall be loaded with shot from the Club bowls. 

23. If any bird escapes through any opening in the paling, it shall be a " no bird," if in the 
Referee's opinion it could not have flown over the palings, but in no instance shall it be scored a 
dead bird. 

24. From the ist of May the advertised events shall begin at three o'clock, unless otherwise 
notified, and no shooter will be admitted after the end of the second round in any advertised event. 

25. No scouting allowed on the Club premises, and no pigeon to be shot at in the shooting 
ground except by the shooter standing at his mark. Anyone infringing this rule will be 
fined x. 


1. In Double Shooting, when more than two traps are pulled, the shooter may call "No 
birds," and claim two more ; but if he shoots he must abide by the consequences. 

2. If, on the traps being pulled, the birds do not rise, it is at the option of the shooter to 
take them or not. If not, he must declare by saying " No birds." 

3. If, on the traps being pulled, one bird does not rise, he cannot demand another double 
rise ; but he must wait and take the bird when it flies. 

4. A bird shot on the ground, if the other bird is missed, is a lost bird ; but if the other bird 
is killed, the shooter may demand another two birds. 

5. If the shooter's gun misses fire with the first barrel, it is no shot under any circum- 
stances. If the miss-fire occurs with the second barrel, the shooter having killed with the 
first, he may demand another bird, but may only use one barrel. 

Revised July, 1901. 

1. A miss-fire with the first barrel is no shot under any circumstances. If the shooter miss- 
fire with the second barrel, he shall have another shot, but with the ordinary charge of powder 
and no shot in the first barrel. 

2. If the gun be locked, or not cocked, or not loaded, and the bird flies away, it is a " lost 
bird" ; if the stock or cock should break in the act of firing, it is "no bird." 

3. If the trap is pulled without notice from the shooter, he has the option to take the bird 
or not. 

4. The puller shall not pull the trap until the trapper and the dog are back in their places, 
even should the shooter call " Pull." 

5. If, on the trap being pulled, the bird does not rise, the shooter to take it or not at his 
option ; but it not he must declare it by saying " No bird " before it is on the wing. If, how- 
ever, the bird rises and settles before the shooter fires, it shall be at his option to refuse it or not. 

6. SINGLE SHOOTING. If more than one bird be liberated, the shooter has the option 
of calling "No bird." 

7. In shooting at a bird, should both barrels go off at once, it shall score the same as if they 
had been let off " separately." 

8. A bird to be scored good must be gathered by the dog or man without the aid of a ladder 
or any other instrument, and all birds not gathered in the ground, or gathered inside the 
pavilion inclosure, having flown over the railings, to be scored lost. 

Trap Shooting. 475 

9. If a bird which has been shot perches or settles on the top of the fence, or on any of the 
buildings in the ground higher than the fence, it is to be scored a " lost bird." 

10. If a bird once out of the ground return and fall dead within the boundary, it must be 
scored a " lost bird." 

11. If the first barrel be fired whilst the bird is on the ground, should the bird be killed by 
either barrel it is "no bird"; if missed, it is lost. It maybe shot on the ground with the 
second barrel, if it has been fired at with the first barrel while on the wing. 

12. The shooter is bound at once to gather his bird, or depute some person so to do when 
called upon ; but in so doing he must not be assisted by any other person, or use any description 
of implement. Should the shooter be in any way baffled by his opponent, or by any other 
person or dog, he can claim another bird with the sanction of the Referee. 

13. The shooter having once left the mark after shooting at the bird, cannot shoot at it again 
under any circumstances. 

14. In matches or in sweepstakes, any shooter found to have in his gun any more shot or 
powder than is allowed, to be at once disqualified. 

15. Any shooter is compelled to unload his gun on being challenged ; but if the charge is 
found not to exceed the allowance, the challenger shall pay \ to the shooter, which must be 
paid before he (the challenger) shoots again. 

16. Officers of the Army and Navy on full pay, provided they are bond-fide guests of a 
member for the day, are allowed to shoot in any sweepstakes to which the Club does not add 
prize or money. Members accredited from recognised Foreign clubs shall only be allowed 
to shoot for four weeks during the Season, after which they must be proposed and seconded 
as candidates if they desire to shoot. 

17. Breechloaders not to be loaded until the shooter is at the marx and the trapper has 
returned to his place. On leaving the mark, should a cartridge not have been discharged, it is 
to be removed before the shooter turns his face from the traps. 

18. No wire cartridges allowed ; nor is any bone-dust or other substance to be mixed 
with the shot. 

19. Should any shooter shoot at a distance nearer than his proper distance, the bird if killed 
is " no bird " ; if missed, a " lost bird " ; but should he, by direction of the Referee or Scorer, 
shoot at any wrong distance, the bird, if missed, shall be " no bird," and the shooter shall be 
allowed another, which, if killed, shall be scored. 

20. ij oz. of shot and 4 dr. of black powder, or its equivalent in any other description of 
gunpowder, is the maximum charge. 

21. In shooting for the principal advertised events, members can enter before the commence- 
ment of the third round, unless it shall be within the knowledge of the Referee that any member 
proposing to enter has been on the ground during the first round, in which case he shall not be 
permitted to shoot after the commencement of the second round ; for all other sweepstakes 
entries must be made before the commencement of the second round. 

22. The sweepstakes preceding the chief event of the day shall be divided in equal propor- 
tions by those shooters who may be in at the end of the round at or after three o'clock, as the 
Referee may direct. 

23. The baskets containing the birds for the whole day's shooting shall be numbered by paint 
at the back. The baskets, in the order they are to be brought out and trapped, shall be drawn 
for by the Referee, and the baskets so marked shall be used in the order of rotation in 
which they are drawn 

47^ The Gun and its Development. 


{From Pigeon Shooting Rules published by the "Field.") 

24. That a Handicapper who does not shoot or bet on pigeon shooting be appointed by the 

25. That a new handicap be made previous to the commencement of each shooting season. 

26. That when the handicap is made the distances shall range from twenty-two to thirty-five 

27. That three members of the Club be appointed as a Shooting Committee, to whom the 
handicapper shall submit his new handicap for approval at the commencement of each shooting 
season. The Committee to receive complaints of members about their handicap distances : two 
to form a quorum. 

28. That during the season the handicapper shall alter the handicap according to his judgment 
previous to each shooting day. 

29. That every new member shall commence at twenty-six yards, except the handicapper 
has special reasons to the contrary. 

30. The Referee's decision shall be final. 

31. In handicap sweepstakes, winners of s go back one yard; ;^io and upwards, two yards; 
/20 and over, three yards, for the day. These penalties do not apply to the advertised events 
of the day unless they have been incurred in such advertised events. 

32. In handicaps the amount of division is to be declared to the Referee, and the members 
dividing shall be penalised to the amount they receive. This Rule not to apply to the saving of 
stakes. All penalties for winning to be exclusive of the winner's stake. 

33. In large sweepstakes, if the money be over ^'50 there shall be two prizes ; if over /'loo, 
three prizes ; and over ;^2oo, four prizes. 

34. No shooting at birds thrown up, or other irregular practice with guns, shall be permitted 
on the ground at any time. 

35. Should two members agree to save stakes, and one of these divide with a third 
person, the member so dividing shall pay the full stake to the member who does not win or 

36. No member to be allowed to shoot in any sweepstakes or handicap until he shall 
have paid the amount of his entry to the Scorer, and should he shoot without having" paid 
his stake before firing his first shot he may be excluded from taking further part in such 

37. Saving of stakes shall apply to any member winning or dividing the first, second, third, 
or fourth prize, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon. 

38. The deductions from all sweepstakes of the value of ;^8 and upwards in the summer 
season, and s and upwards in the winter season, is ten percent., to go to the funds of the 

39. During the hours of shooting, after two o'clock on Club shooting days, when eight 
members are present in summer and five in winter, no match or other shooting shall take place 
without the regular deduction being made from the pools for the Club prize fund. 

40. No guns above ii-bore allowed. 

41. Members shooting under an assumed name must have the same registered in a book by 
the Secretary. Only one assumed name is allowed except by special sanction of the 

Trap Shooting. 477 

The following fines will be strictly enforced : 

1. No bet shall be made by any member who has been called up to shoot after passing the 
inclosure gate, even should he have been standing there previous to his name being called. 
Any member infringing this Rule will be fined ^, which shall be paid before he shoots again. 

2. Pointing a gun at anyone, or firing a loaded gun without permission, except at the 
mark, l^. 

3. Any person firing at a bird after it has passed the safety flags will be fined <=^, and the 
bird shall be scored lost. 

4. A shooter calling " No bird " must not shoot at the same under a penalty of i. 


This cup must be won three times consecutively to become the property of the winner. 
The minimum number of shooters is five, and the entry e^ each, but the Committee have the 
option of making the stakes z^ each when they consider it desirable. Distance thirty yards. 

Competitions for this cup are continuous from year to year. The cup not to be shot 
for before the first Saturday in May in each season. 

The sweepstakes for the Members' Challenge Cup shall be ;^25 on the Saturday in the 
International week, and \o the Saturday before and the Saturday after. 

Members of affiliated clubs or guests shooting by invitation can enter for the competition, 
and can win or divide the money in the pool, but the Cup can only beheld or won by a member 
of the Club. 


This cup must be won twice consecutively, or four times in the season, to become the 
property of the winner. Ten per cent, is deducted every competition for the accumulative fund, 
until it be won. The minimum number of shooters is eight. Entry ^. 

The accumulative fund can only be won by a member of the Club. 


Inclosed grounds. The wire fence erected within the inclosure is the boundary, as at the 
Hurlingham Club and the Gun Club. 

Open boundary, 60 yards from the centre trap where obtainable, or else the fence the 
boundary. A line to be run out level with the shooter who stands the farthest from the trap ; 
and a bird falling dead behind this line cannot be scored. Traps 5 yards apart. 

When a bird perches on a fence, tree, or building, and closes its wings, it is a lost bird. If 
it falls inside the boundary before closing its wings, it is scored to the shooter. 

In the North the general rule is one trap, 21 yards rise. Gun to be held below the elbow 
until the bird is on the wing, i oz. shot ; boundary 60 yards. 

In shooting from H and T traps both traps are to be filled ; only one barrel allowed ; 
distance from 21 to 35 yards. No spring traps permitted. 

The Hurlingham Club boundary was about 90 yards in a straight line from the centre trap. 

The Gun Club (Notting Hill) boundary is marked by a wire netting fence, about 2 ft. 6 in. 
high, erected some 30 yards from each trap. 

The Monaco Boundary a wire fence about 40 inches high, in a straight line from the 
centre trap. 

478 The Gun and its Development. 


On the Continent the rules of the Cercle des Patineurs of Paris are usually 
adhered to ; they are practically the Hurlingham rules. The charge is Hmited : 
4 drams of powder by measure, and \\ ounce of shot, is the maximum; the 
boundary is 87 yards (80 metres) from the pavilion ; 54 yards from the centre 
trap ; the traps are five metres from each other. 

The shooter has a right to another bird if his gun miss-fires or refuses to go off through any 

fault not his own. 
The pigeon is lost if the shooter has neglected to cock his gun, to load it, or to place on 

the cap. 
If the first barrel misses fire, and the shooter fires the second, he loses his right to another 

pigeon, unless the second barrel also miss-fires. 
If the second barrel misses fire, the shooter having fired and missed the bird with the first, 

he may claim another bird ; but in that case both barrels must be loaded, the 

first with powder only, and neither barrel must be discharged until after the trap 

is sprung. 
It is forbidden to shoot both barrels at the same time. 

The standard gauge is twelve : any gun of larger bore than this is handicapped 
half a metre for each size ; thus ten-bores, the maximum bore allowed, stand one 
metre back, fourteen-bores advance half a metre, sixteen-bores one metre; no 
further advantage is allowed to any smaller bore. 


Trap shooting cannot be recommended as a profession. However good a shot 
a sportsman may be, he will find so many uncertainties in trap shooting that it 
is doubtful if any person shooting continually will make trap shooting pay 

At an ordinary bird, shot at under Hurlingham rules by an average good shot, 
the chances are five to two in favour of the shooter. To be considered a good shot 
the number of kills must average more than 70 percent. Mr. "Grace," at one 
time considered a reliable shot, with a Greener gun once scored a percentage of 
84*3 kills in a series of International contests. Other shooters have occasionally 
made a higher percentage in a short series of matches. 

In a series of International matches, out of 1,120 birds shot at by thirty-six 
different shooters, 79*9 percent, were killed, and this is about the average in matches 
between first-rate shots. 



48a The Gun and its Development. 

The following hints may be of , use to young shooters who wish to try their skill 
in trap shooting : Commence at a short distance say i8 yards at live birds; 
stand in an easy position, gripping the gun well forward with the left hand. This is 
a great aid in quick shooting. Do not stare at the trap which you think will 
give the most difficult shot to you ; and if you do not particularly regard any 
trap, so much the better. Do not say "Pull" until you are quite ready to 
shoot, and have your attention concentrated upon what you are about to do. When 
the bird gets up, up with the gun quickly but steadily, and the alignment should 
be perfect, and the trigger pulled as the gun reaches the shoulder. Some pigeon 
guns are so constructed that at 40 yards' range they will throw the body of the 
charge a few inches higher than the line of aim ; consequently, at any distance up 
to 45 yards, you will have the advantage over a bird rising in flight. 

When shooting at 30 yards' rise this quality of the gun will be the more requisite, 
as to be a sure trap shot you will require generally to kill your pigeon within four or 
five yards of the trap, and for that distance the pigeon generally rises, and if he 
does not do so immediately will in all probability do so before he is out of range. 
The happy medium between snapping just over the trap, and " poking " after the 
pigeon, must be sought. 

In choosing a gun, all will depend upon the rules under which it will be used, 
but it may be said that as a rule a gun of 7I lbs. will be the thing. Let it be taken 
from the rack just before going to the mark, and let a point be made of loading and 
cocking it methodically. Quite a large number of birds are scored lost every year 
because the shooter has forgotten to cock his gun, or to move the safety off, or 
from some other cause equally easy to prevent. 

It is best to take no heed either of bystanders or trappers when going to the 
mark, and if one can be quite deaf to the shouts from the " ring " the score is 
likely to benefit. 

In contending in a handicap it is the time spent in waiting between the rounds 
that tires and tries the nerve and patience. At Monte Carlo a man may have to 
fire but nine times, and possibly have the whole of two afternoons in which to do it- 
In contesting a match at 100 birds it must be remembered that the task will be 
trying to endurance ; and if a lighter gun can be found which suits as well as a 
heavy one, the use of it will enhance the shooter's chance of success. The shortest 
time occupied by the match will be two hours and a half, and it may drag along for 
double that time. 

In match shooting the percentage of birds killed will be greater than in handicap 
shooting, and unless the shooter knows, by experience or former practice, that he 

Trav Shooting. 481 

can kill on the average ninety birds out of one hundred, he will do best not to 
contest a match with the best shots of the day. 

Drive straight to the shooting-ground, so as to arrive at the time the shooting is 
advertised to commence. Waste no time in " plating " your gun. If the results of 
the shooting at the target should not please you, you will lose confidence in your 
gun and gain nothing. You should ascertain that the gun shoots well, and that the 
cartridges are suitably loaded, before you get to the shooting-ground. Keep yourself 
to the matter in hand, and pay no attention either to the remarks of the contestants 
or the " betting." Having won or lost, leave the ground at once. Unless the 
ground is one not often visited, trial shots before the serious shooting commences 
are not to be recommended. Upon visiting a town for the purpose of contesting 
the International Tournaments, it is best to lodge at some distance from the shooting- 
ground, and to go there only so often as the business of the contests requires it ; 
nothing is gained by constantly hanging about the shooting-ground and its vicinity, 
nor by experimenting in it. 


A modern variation of ordinary trap shooting is to use small loads of shot, thus 
greatly handicapping the shooter and increasing the chances of the bird. This form 
demands greater skill in wing shooting, perhaps, but does not require so good a gun 
as when a clever shot is handicapped by being put back say to thirty yards or 
beyond. The sport has attained considerable popularity in the North of England, 
and it is usually contested at 21 yards' rise. The shooter is restricted to the use of 
one barrel and must not use more than one half-ounce of shot, or some other 
fraction, as 3, 5, or 7 eighths of an ounce, may be agreed upon. Usually No. 8 shot 
is chosen, and it is rare that even an expert shot, well used to this variety of trap 
shooting, accounts for more than half the birds. The charge of powder is pro- 
portionately reduced with the decreased load of shot 2 drams for | ounce, etc. 
The birds are generally well trained, and fetch high prices ; they escape unhurt or 
are killed, few get away wounded, some are trapped a dozen times or more. Up to 
the present no special gun has been produced for this class of shooting. 


When pigeon shooting first became fashionable it was considered very good 
shooting if the marksman grassed half his birds ; this at the short rises and with the 
old-fashioned wide boundaries. That it should be possible for a wing shot to kill 
all his birds in a match at 100 pigeons would have been doubted twenty years 
ago ; for when the first edition of this book was published the records made by 

482 The Gun and its Development. 

Captain Bogardus in 1880 were doubted by critics or attributed to good luck. 
Nothing is more noticeable than the great improvement since made in marksman- 
ship. The highest possible score at even long rises, and with the usual boundary, does 
not excite particular astonishment, and the killing of a hundred birds straight has now 
been accomplished several times in American public matches. The improvements in 
guns and ammunition particularly, perhaps, the use of the best smokeless powder 
have contributed in no small degree to the higher scores which have been made. The 
trap shooter is furnished with the closest-shooting gun money can buy, and usually 
is so sure of his aim that, as in the Brewer match, the second barrel is but rarely 
employed, and when this advantage is taken, it is more by way of precaution against 
the possible escape of a grassed bird than as making good a miss with the first barrel. 
When out of 200 birds shot at in succession all are killed and 199 scored, it is certainly 
proof that the gun shoots well and with regularity is, in fact, absolutely trustworthy 
with the ammunition used and so much may be allowed without any disparagement 
of the wonderful skill in wing shooting the performance of such a feat displays. 

The following record scores are of undoubted interest, and may be accepted as 


One of the best scores first recorded is that of Captain A. H. Bogardus, who on 
July 2nd, 1880, succeeded in scoring 99 birds out of 100, the 47th bird falling dead 
out of bounds. This was made in a match with Mr. Rimmell, for 250 dollars a 
side. Bogardus, 30; Rimmell, 28 yds. : 100 birds, 5 traps, weather fair, and birds 
in good condition. 

Other scores by Captain Bogardus are in a match with Mr. Wallace, at the Gun 
Club Grounds, July 19th, 1878, resulting in a tie, each shooter scoring 79 birds out 
of 100. The following Wednesday the tie was shot off, resulting in a win for Mr. 
Wallace; he killing 72 birds to the Captain's 61. On July the 23rd, in the same 
year, the Captain shot a match with Mr. H. Cholmondeley-Pennell at the same 
grounds; the scores being Captain Bogardus, 71 ; Mr. Cholmondeley-Pennell, 69. 
These scores were among the best ever made in England. 

On the 1 6th March, 1881, Dr. Carver and Mr. W. Scott shot off a match at 
Hendon, 100 pigeons each, 30 yards rise. Score Dr. Carver, 79 ; Mr. Scott, who 
grassed 26 in succession, scored 74. Young Nimrod, a child of eleven, with a 
Greener 28-bore choked treble-wedge-fast gun, and using li drs. powder and f oz. 
shot, in public matches, has grassed 17, 11, and 13 without a miss at 27 yards> 
and has, upon more than one occasion, killed 38 out of 50. 

Trap Shooting. 485 

On February 7th, 188 r, a match was shot off at the Welsh Harp, Hendon, 
between Dr. Carver and Mr. W. Scott. Dr. Carver used throughout the match a 
Greener choke-bore gun. Mr, Scott also used a Greener, but after the match 
commenced shot .with the Greener and a London gun irregularly. The score 
was Dr. Carver, 66 birds; Mr. Scott, 62. The stakes amounted to ^1^400. 
The birds were the finest and quickest seen during the winter, and the weather was 
vile : the greater part of the match being shot in a blinding snowstorm and a 
driving squall from the south-west. 

Dr. Carver made several matches with the best trap-shots of England. He was 
beaten once by Mr. Heygate, of the Gun Club, in a match of 25 birds a side. 

Dr. Carver tied with Mr. A. J. Stuart-Wortley in a match for ;!^5oo a side, shot 
at the Hendon Ground, December 8th, 1882 score, 83 each. This match was the 
more exciting from the fact that at the 50th bird the scores were equal, as they were 
again several times during the last part of the match and at the finish. 

Dr. Carver's string of 50 birds killed straight off, which he accomplished at 
Lynchburg, Va., U.S.A., with a Greener 7^ lb. 12-bore gun, was his best on record. 

Dr. Carver shot three matches against Captain Bogardus in the United States in 
1884. The following are the scores and distances : First match (at Louisville, 
Ky.) 100 birds, 30 yards rise, 80 yards boundary, Hurlingham rules Carver, 83 ; 
Bogardus, 82. Second match (at Chicago ; same conditions as first match) 
Carver, 82 ; Bogardus, 79 ; at the 80th round scores were even, and remained so 
until the 90th, when Carver killed all succeeding birds, and won a well-contested 
match by three birds. Third match (at St. Louis; 50 double rises at 21 yards) 
Carver, 79; Bogardus, 81. 

In a series of three matches between Mr. E. D. Fulford and Captain Brewer, in 
November, 1891, at New York, 100 birds each at 30 yards, Mr. Fulford, using a 
gun by W. W. Greener, scored the full number to his opponent's 99. The following 
day the scores were Fulford, 99 ; Brewer, 98 ; the 95th bird shot at by Mr. 
Fulford fell dead out of bounds, thus practically 200 consecutive tries resulted in 
200 kills, a truly marvellous performance, which certainly no game shot could equal. 
This was the highest score ever made at the trap. The third match resulted in a tie^ 
both gentlemen scoring 94 each. The tie was immediately shot off at 25 birds each. 
Captain Brewer killing all his birds while Mr. Fulford scored 24, leaving Captain 
Brewer who also used a Greener gun -the winner of the shoot-off by a single bird. 

A final contest for the Championship of England Cup took place at Hendon on 
July 3rd, 1888, and resulted in a win for Captain Brewer, who killed 24 out of 25 
birds, at 30 yards rise, and having thrice consecutively gained the prize against all 

484 The Gun and its Development. 

comers, claimed the trophy as his own. Captain Brewer used a Greener gun in all 

In the contest for the American Field Champion Wing-Shot Cup, 1890, Mr. 
Elliott, the holder, successfully defended it with a Greener gun, scoring 59 out of 
60, 48 out of 50, and 94 out of 100 birds. 

The contest for the American Field Champion Wing-Shot Cup was decided in 
1891. This resolved itself into a match between Mr. J. A. R. Elliott and Mr. E. D. 
Fulford. In it the largest consecutive run was made by Elliott, who grassed his last 37 
birds straight. The score shows that Elliott used his second barrel more frequently 
than did Fulford, but on a majority of the birds this was used simply for safety. There 
was a large attendance of shooting men, and the victory of Elliott was well received. 

" Elliott shot his Greener, weighing 7 lb. 3 oz., and Fulford used his Hammer- 
Greener, weighing 7 lb. 11 oz. Both men used Schultze powder in both barrels. 
Elliott, 46, winning the cup for the eighth time ; Fulford, 43. Conditions 50 birds 
each, 30 yards rise." Elliott has since won the cup for the tenth time. 

In December, 1893, the same gentlemen shot a series of matches of 100 birds 
each a side, for $200 a match, a $1,000 bet, and $200 on a majority of the contests, 
usual conditions, 30 yards rise. The following were the scores made by each man : 
At Kansas City, Mo., Fulford, 86; Elliott, 85. At Indianapolis, Ind., Fulford, 96 ; 
Elliott, 93. At Pittsburg, Pa., Elliott, 93 ; Fulford, 90. At Williamsport, Pa., 
Fulford, 96; Elliott, 89. At Harrisburg, Pa., Fulford, 90; Elliott, 85. Of the 
500 birds shot at in the five matches, Mr. Fulford scored 458 or 9if per cent.j and 
Mr. Elliott 445, or 89 per cent. 

In these matches Mr. Elliott used a Greener gun fitted with " Greener's Wrought 
Steel " barrels. 

The killing of 100 birds and upwards without a miss has been accomplished on 
several notable occasions. On November 12th, 1891, in the match between 
Captain Brewer and Mr. Fulford. Scores : Fulford, 100 ; Brewer, 99, 80 yards 
boundary. This match was continued, Fulford killing 194 straight, and 199 out of 
200, both competitors using Greener guns. On October 12th, 1894, in the match 
between Mr. Elliott and Dr. Carver. Scores: Elliott, 100; Carver, 99, 30 yards 
rise, 50 yards boundary. The winner used a Greener gun. 

The greatest prize and highest honour ever shot for is the Championnat 
Universel, the one triennial event of the Monte Carlo International Meetings. 
This was won with a W. W. Greener gun, in 1886, by Mr. H. C. Pennell (who also 
won the Grand Prix du Casino in 1878 with his Greener gun), and again by Mr. 
W. Blake, in 1889, and it may interest some to know that neither of these shots 

Trap Shooting. 


was measured for his gun ; indeed, the gun used by Mr. Pennell was an ordinary 
weapon from stock, and a few hours before the match commenced the right or 
upright trigger was changed to act upon the left lock and vice versa. 

The winners of the Grand Prix du Casino must also be considered amongst 
the best of trap shooters. This match is contested by the best trap shots of all 
nations, and the birds are supplied by one of the most esteemed purveyors, whilst 
the Monaco boundary is acknowledged to be much in favour of the bird. The 
contest extending over several days also necessitates careful shooting over a 
long period, and to kill 13 consecutive birds without a miss, firing only at long 
intervals, is evidence of the ability of the marksman. 

In several instances the killing of a dozen pigeons in succession has taken the 
Grand Prix, as was the case in 1887 and 1888 ; and in 1891 Count Gajoli, with his 
Greener, killed his 5 birds at 26 and 5 at 27 metres to win. 

The following gentlemen have won the Grand Prix du Casino : 





Winner of the Grand Prix. 

-Mr. George L. Lorillard (American). 
-Mr. J. Jee, V.C, C.B. (English). 
-Sir Wm. Call, Bart. (English). 
-Captain Aubrey Patton (English). 
-Captain Aubrey Patton (English). 
-Mr. W. Arundel Yeo (English). 
-Mr. H.Cholmondeley-Pennell (English). 
-Mr. E. R. G. Hopwood (English). 
-Count Michel Esterhazy (Hungarian). 
-Mr. G. Camaueur (Belgian). 
-Comte de St. Quentin (French). 
-Mr. H. T. Roberts (English). 
-Le Comte de Caspela (Italian). 
-M. Leon de Dorlodot (Belgian). 
-Signor Guidicini (Italian). 
-Count Salina (Italian). 
-Mr. C. Seaton (English). 
-Mr. V. Dicks (EngHsh). 
-Signor Guidicini (Italian). 
-Count Gajoli (Italian). 

Year. Winner of the Grand Prix. 

1892 Count Trautmannsdorf (Austrian). 

1893 Signor Guidicini (Italian). 

1894 Count Zichy (Austrian). 

1895 Signor Benvenuti (Italian). 

1896 Monsieur Journu (French). 

1897 Signor G. Grasselli (Italian). 

1898 Mr. Curling (English). 

1899 M. R. Moncorge (French). 

1900 Count O'Brien (Spanish). 

1901 M. Guyot (French). 

1902 Signor H. Grasselli (Italian). 

1903 Mr. Pellier Johnson (English). 

1904 Signor Schiannini (Italian). 

1905 Signor H. Grasselli (Italian). 

1906 Signor H. Grasselli (Italian). 

1907 Mr. Hall (English). 

1908 Count Czernin (Austrian). 

1909 Signor Cacciari (Italian). 

1910 Signor Vigano (Italian). 


To a small extent the shooting of glass balls, etc., has long been practised in 
this country. About twenty years ago the apparatus used was greatly improved by 
American sportsmen ; and the sport, as practised there by Captain Bogardus, 
Mr. Ira Payne, and Dr. Carver, quickly became popular, and of late years 

486 The Gun and its Development. 

has developed enormously. In this country the results of several attempts 
to popularise the sport were most disappointing, but more recently the efforts of 
the Clay Bird Shooting Association have achieved greater success. 

Inanimate targets may be divided into two classes balls and " pigeons." The 
balls are now practically obsolete. At first plain hollow spheres of colourless glass, 
they were afterwards made of blue or amber glass, and filled with feathers ; later the 
spheres were chequered to prevent the shot from glancing, and this stage of 
development is the highest reached by the glass ball. Balls made of various 
resinous compositions have been tried, and have a certain sale, but as there is difficulty 
in getting them sufficiently brittle they have not generally supplanted the glass balls. 
Other plans have been tried, as bell balls, puff" balls, inflated rubber bladders, 
explosive balls, etc., but they have not proved successes commercially. 

The " Bogardus ' Trap. The Blue Rock Pigeon The "Carver" Revolving Trap. 

The traps to throw them are numerous and varied ; from the modified catapult 
used at the old English fairs they rapidly developed into complicated machines. 
The "Hatch" was like the old " Balista," the "Bogardus" was an improved form, 
and the " Carver," with a coiled spring instead of the flat coach-spring, better still ; 
then came traps which were rotated and threw the ball at unknown angles except 
towards the shooter magazine traps, repeating traps, and traps to throw two balls at 
the one time. 

The flight of a glass ball or other sphere being so widely different from that of a 
pigeon, and an ordinary shot being able to break most of them at usual ranges, no 
matter how quickly thrown, it was sought by the production of a skimming target to 
obtain, if not a nearer approach to bird flight, at least a more difficult target to hit. 

The first to become generally known was the " Ligousky," a modified form of 
which remains in use. It is of baked clay, saucer-shaped, with a projection on the 
rim which is clamped to the throwing arm of the trap. The " Blue Rock," as 
illustrated, differs from the " Ligousky " in being made of a tar and ash composition, 
and, having no projection, it is thrown by a suitable holder attached to the arm of the 
trap. The essential features of this invention are, in the target a sunk top connected 

Trap Shooting. 


to the sides by a film-like connection, permitting of a tougher material being used, 
as the sides and top of the target part if either is struck, though neither may break ; 

The "Swiftsure." 

The " Highflyer." 

and, in the trap a holder pivoted to the throwing arm, so that the targets are 
not broken in the trap by the act of throwing. These prin ciples are found in later 

488 The Gux and its Development. 

traps and targets. In this country favourite traps are the "Taunton," which is 
also satisfactorily made as a "double rise" trap, the "Highflyer," and the 
" Swiftsure " ; the points of difference in construction are clearly enough shown in the 
illustrations. A useful apparatus, known as the " Hand-flinger," has now been intro- 
duced. It is similar in shape to the arm of a modern clay-bird trap, fitted with a cork 
or felt grip by which the operator holds it. Steel or clay birds are used, and, with 
a little practice, considerable amusement can be obtained with one of these flingers. 

Composite targets have been adopted by the Clay Bird Shooting Associa- 
tion, and the traps used " Swiftsure," " Taunton," or other must also be of 
English manufacture. The latest American trap, the " Magau," is capable of giving 
single, double, or multiple rises at will. In the United States the sport has many 
more adherents; the pulling is effected by electrical devices, and the setting of 
the traps and arrangements for working them are totally different and of a more 
elaborate character. 

It seems probable that the sport will increase in popularity and become world- 
wide. For practice, a single trap, if adjustable to different angles, as most are, is all- 
sufficient ; but the club arrangement, order of shooting, and set of traps, will be 
gathered from the official rules of the Association, which are here reproduced. 

General Shooting Rules. 

I. Arrangement of firing marks. There may be five firing marks, five yards apart, and 
shooters should stand at not less than 18 yards from the traps. The marks shall be numbered 
I, 2, 3, 4, and 5, No. i being on the extreme left, and No. 5 on the extreme right. 

2. No gun of a larger calibre than 12 gauge shall be used, and the charge of shot shall not 
exceed i\ ounce. 

3. The gun or cartridges of any shooter may be challenged by a competitor as not being 
in accordance with Rule 2, and if found on examination to be a breach of the Rule, the holder 
of such gun or ammunition shall pay a fine of los. 6d. to the Club funds, and be disqualified 
from the current competition ; but if the gun or ammunition be found correct, the 
challenger (except it be the Referee) shall pay 2s. 6d. to the Club funds. 

4. A shooter who, from any cause whatever, shall discharge his gun, otherwise than in 
accordance with the regulations, shall be excluded from taking part in any further competitions 
during the day. All firing at passing birds, animals, or other unauthorised objects shall be 
strictly prohibited. 

5. If a shooter, in firing at a bird, shall let off both barrels practically at once, and kill 
his bird, that bird shall be scored a " no bird " ; and if he misses, the bird shall be scored a miss. 

6. A Referee shall be appointed to judge all matches, and his decision shall be final. 

7. The Referee shall see that the traps are properly set, and he shall also see that all due 
precautions are taken for the safety of the trappers, shooters, and others. 

8. All guns must be kept open at the breech while the traps are being refilled, or while 
shooters are changing their marks. Any person infringing this Rule shall be fined is. 

Trap Shooting. 489 

9. A shooter may refuse a " no bird " if thrown broken from the trap, or if it be not fairly- 
thrown ; but a shooter who takes a bird or part of a bird shall be bound by the result. 

10. In cases where a bird or birds are accidentally released so as to be flying in the air at 
the same time as the bird or birds at which the shooter is required to fire, the shooter may elect 
to treat it as a " no bird." 

II. If the shooter's gun, being properly loaded and cocked, fails to fire from any cause 
whatever, excepting through the fault of the shooter, the bird shall be counted a " no bird." 
If the gun misses fire with the first barrel, and the shooter fires the second and " breaks," the 
shot shall be scored a " kill " ; but if he fires the second and misses, it shall be scored a " miss " ; 
and if he does not fire the second it shall be " no bird." If the gun misses fire with the second 
barrel, the shooter shall be allowed another bird, using a cartridge primed and loaded with 
powder but without a charge of shot in the first barrel, and a loaded cartridge in the second 
barrel, and he shall pull the trigger of the first barrel after the trap has been released. 

12. A bird to be scored a " kill " must have a piece visibly broken from it whilst in the air. 
The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether a bird is broken, and any person impugning 
his decision shall be disqualified from the current competition. No bird shall under any cir- 
cumstances be retrieved for examination. 

13. Every club affiliated to the Association shall keep an ofiicial score book, showing in 
detail the results of every competition, and such score book shall always be available for 
examination by any person dujy authorised by the Association. Broken birds or " kills " shall 
be indicated by the figure one (1), and missed birds by a nought (0). 

14. No betting shall be allowed. 

Special Rules for Continuous Fire. 

XV. There shall be six shooters for the five marks. Five shooters shall occupy the five 
marks, and No. 6 shooter shall stand behind No. r, waiting his turn. No. i shooter shall fire 
first from No. i mark, No. 2 shooter from No. 2 mark, and so on in rotation down the line. 
At, or during, the completion of the round. No. i shall take the place of No. 2, and No. 6 
shall occupy No. i mark. No. 2 shooter shall occupy No. 3 mark, and so on. No. 5 becoming 
the shooter in waiting behind No. i. No man shall leave his mark till the round is com- 

XVI. When the shooters are at the mark, the puller shall call No. i, and the first 
shooter shall then call " Pull," and the other shooters on the line shall call " Pull " in the order 
of their turn to fire without the number of their trap being called by the puller. 

XVII. If a shooter fires out of turn, he shall be scored a miss, and the shooter due 
to fire shall shoot again, the bird being a " no bird " notwithstanding Rule 9. 

XVIII. When the traps are set to throw at unknown angles, and there are two or more 
traps behind each screen, the puller should be informed by some suitable means which trap 
behind each screen he is to pull, so that the shooter shall be kept in ignorance of the angle at 
which his bird will be thrown. 

Special Rules for Single Fire Competitions at Unknown Traps. 

XIX. The shooter shall stand at the centre mark and fire at five birds before leaving 
the line. 

XX. When the shooter is at the mark, and prepared to fire, the puller shall call 
" Ready," and the shooter shall then call " Pull." 

Q ^ . 

490 The Gun and its Development. 

XXI. In cases where there is only one trap at each position, all five traps shall be filled 
before the shooter commences to shoot. The Referee may indicate to the puller, by means of a 
pack of five cards, each bearing the number of an individual trap (1-2-3-4-5), t^e order in which 
the traps are to be pulled. The cards shall be shuffled for each shooter, and turned up one at 
a time until five birds have been shot at. In the event of a "no bird " the trap throwing it 
shall be at once refilled, and the Referee shall re-shuffle the remaining. cards, and then turn 
them up one at a time until five birds have been shot at. 


The best records made at inanimate targets are very much higher than anything 
obtained from Uve bird shooting. There are more than fifty shooters in the United 
States who have broken 100 of the inanimate targets without a miss, and the score 
made and recorded at a pubUc competition. Many more shooters have scored more 
than 90 out of 100. 

In a series of twenty-five matches, at 100 clay pigeons each, at each match, 
between Dr. Carver and Capt. Bogardus, 2,227 were broken by Dr. Carver and 
2,103 by Capt. Bogardus, at 18 yards rise. Dr. Carver made two scores of 100 
each without a miss, and won nineteen matches, tied in three, and lost three. His 
lowest score was the first 72 ; and twenty of his scores exceeded 90 broken. 
Capt. Bogardus once scored 99, his highest, and three times 63, his lowest in this 
series of matches. 

At glass balls still less skill is required ; but the best record is Mr. Scott's 700 
smashed consecutively with a Greener gun. Dr. Carver, in a match with Mr. Scott, 
broke 9,737 out of 9,950 shot at ; Mr. Scott, 9,735 out of the same number. Out 
of the last 950 in this match. Dr. Carver missed two only, and Mr. Scott three. 

Capt. H, Bogardus, the great American wing shot, made a match against time in 
December, 1879, and succeeded in breaking 5,500 glass balls in a few seconds less 
than 7 hours 20 minutes. The misses numbered 356. The Captain used an 
English gun with two pairs of barrels one pair (lo-bore) shooting 4 drams of 
powder and i^ oz. of No. 8 shot; the 12-bore pair were loaded with 3 J drams and 
I oz. of No. 8 shot. During the match the Captain loaded for himself, and changed 
the barrels no less than fifty-five times. Three miss-fires only occurred in the whole 
series of 5,855 shots. The balls were all sprung from spring traps. 

Double Guns with Single Tkjggers. 




The idea of making one trigger serve to discharge both locks of a double-barrelled 
gun is by no means new, for there is evidence that some two hundred years ago it 
had presented itself to the gunsmith. 

From the Collection of H. J. Jackson, Esq, 

The illustration, which is taken from the collection of H. J. Jackson, Esq., 
represents a double wheel lock actuated by a single trigger, the scears being 
arranged tandem fashion and connected by a slack chain ; the first pull by the 
trigger on the back scear releases the back wheel and tightens the chain, and a further 
pull releases the front wheel ; this lock was in all probability made for an under and 
over barrelled gun or rifle. 

An illustration of a flintlock pistol fitted with a single trigger will be found on 
page loi. In this mechanism the trigger is pivoted vertically. An inclined plane 
on the right tumbler forces the trigger under the left scear when the right tumbler 


The Gun and its Development. 

has been let down ; on the tumbler being raised, a spring forces the trigger beneath 
the right scear. It is necessary to remove the pressure upon the trigger before the 
second barrel can be discharged, in the same manner as with the double-action 
revolver, but the pistol-trigger does not require so much travel. A gun of more 
modern construction was made by the author before the publication of the first 
edition of this book (1880), and is here illustrated. 

There are various mechanical means for securing the same end ; usually the fall 
of the tumbler is made to gear with a connecting rod, which pushes over the trigger- 
blade to engage with the opposite scear and is returned to its first position by a 
spring. The first gun that the author made on this principle acted admirably with 

Greener's Double Gun with Single Trigger. 

most shooters, but with some, both barrels went off practically simultaneously. The 
advantages seemed slight, and as a possibility of firing the second barrel unawares 
was enough to condemn the principle, the matter remained in abeyance, but the 
gun was sold and gave complete satisfaction to its user. 

Of recent years considerable attention has been given to this subject, particu- 
larly by inventors who have sought, by innumerable devices, to overcome the 
obvious difficulties of the system. Since 1864, when the first single-trigger patent was^ 
applied for, over one hundred patents have been provisionally protected in England,, 
there being granted, in one year alone, eighteen patents for single-trigger mechanisms. 

The new devices are for the most part produced with a view to obviating the 
accidental or premature discharge of the second barrel. The recoil after firing the 
first barrel causes the shooter involuntarily to loosen his grip on the trigger, and 
give a second pull ; this second pull with the simple automatic mechanism some- 
times frees the opposite lock, and the second barrel is at once discharged. 

Double Guns with Single Triggers. 493 


During the past few years there has been much controversy as to the discovery 
of the principle of the three-pull mechanism. On December 15th, 1906, an action, 
Robertson v. Purdey, was brought in the Chancery Division of the High Court of 
Justice for infringement of a single-trigger patent. There were three claimants to 
the invention of the three-pull system, viz., Baker, Nobbs, and Robertson; and 
it was ruled in the order named, by Mr, Justice Parker, who gave emphatic 
precedence to Mr. Baker as the originator of the principle, which judgment 
invalidated both the Nobbs and Robertson patents. 

The trial extended over a period of nearly two months, during which time 
the question of single-trigger mechanisms was very exhaustively dealt with, and 
it is of interest to note the opinion expressed by one of the expert witnesses, 
Mr. Thorn (Charles Lancaster), who stated that he "did not consider that any 
single-trigger mechanism could be relied upon never to go wrong in use." This 
seemed to be the general opinion of the experts, and is one with which the author 
is in agreement. Nevertheless, from his own experience as well as that of 
others, he is able to testify to the reliable working of his own mechanism, in some 
instances for over nine years, under the most trying circumstances, without the 
slightest hitch. 

It must be evident to everyone who will give but a moment's consideration 
to the question, that the single trigger, even in its simplest form, has to perform 
automatically the work of the human finger in changing from the first to the second 
trigger of an ordinary gun. This in itself necessitates the use of spring operating 
mechanisms, and consequently greater liability to get out of order, particularly 
so when it is noted that for many years past the author has made his "Facile 
Princeps " hammerless mechanism with the double triggers without employing any 


This is another phase of the single-trigger mechanism which has numerous 
variants. They are, however, of little value and only serve to introduce further 
complications in what is ofttimes an already too intricate mechanism. The 
selective mechanism, which claims to allow the use of either barrel at will, is 
nearly always actuated by a sliding finger-plate similar to that of a top safety slide, 
and this is usually placed on the trigger-plate in front of the right trigger. It is 
scarcely credible that the mechanism can be brought into action for selecting the 

494 The Gun and its Development. 

barrel, after a bird has risen, in the same way, or so quickly, as one might decide to 
pull the left trigger of an ordinary gun. It would therefore appear that they are 
only of use when it is required to fire one barrel continuously, as would be the case 
in a pigeon match, in which the firing might be limited to the left barrel, and it 
is vry evident that this slight advantage cannot compensate for the necessarily 
greater complication of mechanism. 


The single trigger undoubtedly possesses advantages over the two-trigger 
gun, principally the facility with which two barrels can be fired in rapid succession ; 
the same length of stock is secured with most mechanisms for both barrels, and 
there is no necessity to relax the grip of the stock. What these advantages mean 
to the sportsman can only be fully appreciated by a fair trial at game. 


Although the number of single-trigger patents is so great, there appear to be but 
three principles upon which the whole of the successful mechanisms are based. These 
are described in detail later, but may be classed as the " Three-pull system," the 
" Timing mechanism," and the " Recoil-regulated pendulous form." In selecting any 
type of single-trigger mechanism, the sportsman is strongly advised to choose that 
having the fewest and strongest parts, and, wherever possible, to give the system he 
favours an actual shooting test. It is hoped that the description given of the leading 
types may be of some assistance in enabling the sportsman to select out of the 
almost bewildering variety that best adapted for his use. 



In the Jones-Baker patent (1883-1895) the principle of the intermediate pull is 
employed, though the mechanism specified consists of a somewhat compli- 
cated locking gear, put into motion by the fall of the right-hand tumbler, and 
retaining the trigger-slide until the second, or involuntary, pull on the trigger finger 
releases it, when the slide is free to slip under the tail of the scear of the left-hand 
lock, and engages that when the trigger is next pulled. The opening of the lever 
brings the trigger-slide back to its first position. If the locks are snapped off when 
the gun is unloaded, three distinct perceptible pulls are needed to free the two 

Double Guns with Single Triggers. 


locks, but when the gun is fired in the ordinary way the recoil causes the shooter 
unwittingly to pull on the trigger and so liberate the trigger-slide from the bent into 


Jones' Single-trigger Mechanism (17 parts). 

which the fall of the right-hand tumbler forced it. The illustrations show the 
position of the trigger-slide before, during, and after the intermediate pull. This 
patent also includes a separate mechanism for changing trigger from left to right 
at will. 

boss's single-trigger gun. 

In Messrs. Boss & Co.'s single-trigger gun (Robertson's patent, 1894) the principle 
employed to prevent the accidental discharge of the second barrelis also that of intro- 
ducing a new pull between the two necessary to discharge both barrels. This new 
pull is ordinarily given by the recoil of the gun, and in shooting cannot be distin- 
guished ; but if the trigger be pulled when the gun is unloaded, three distinct pulls 


The Gun and its Development. 

are felt, and have to be given, before both tumblers are released. This intermediate 
pull is accomplished by having suitable mechanism, constituting practically a special 
bent and scear, upon which the trigger acts in the ordinary way. 

The "Boss" Single-trigger Gun (14 pieces) 

The mechanism consists of a gearing wheel or drum a, pivoted vertically behind 
the trigger-blade ; this drum is rotated by a coiled watch-spring, and has arms 
projecting to engage the scears. A connecting rod d, from the action or other con- 
venient mechanism on opening the gun, turns the drum against the coiled spring, in 
which position the drum is retained by abutting against the end of the right-hand 
scare tail, when that scear is in bent. This scear rests upon the trigger, and is 
released in the ordinary way. When the scear tail has been raised to free the 

Double Guns with Single Triggers. 


tumbler, the drum rotates, until it is stopped by a stud n on it catching against 
the trigger-blade. The second, or involuntary, pull upon the trigger caused by the 
recoil slips the trigger-blade over this stop, and the drum rotates farther, bringing 
the second arm immediately under the scear of the left-hand lock, and over the 
trigger-blade. When the trigger is next pressed it raises the drum on the vertical 
pivot E, and with it the left-hand scear, thus discharging that lock. 

The mechanism requisite to change the pull from right to left, and vice versa, at 
will, is quite distinct, and of a somewhat complicated character. The essential 
feature of this single-trigger mechanism is the automatic locking of the gearing 
wheel, or drum, by the trigger, and the utilisation of the involuntary pull upon the 
trigger to unlock it and complete the change from right to left. 

The chief objection to the three-pull system is its liability to failure when 
the involuntary pull is not taken ; it may happen through holding the gun tightly 
in the grasp. Under such conditions the unconscious forward movement of the 
finger is eliminated, and the second conscious pull is taken on the intermediate 
pull. The trigger is thus blocked, and it is impossible to fire the second barrel 
until the trigger is allowed to go forward again. 

The Fulford Single-trigger Mechanism. 



What is probably the best example to illustrate this principle is the " pneumatic 
trigger," and that most readily comprehensible is the Fulford patent (1904), of which 
a detailed description is here given. 

498 The Gum and its Development. 

Fig. I shows the parts in position for firing the left barrel. Fig. 2 shows the 
parts in position for firing the right barrel after the left has been fired. Fig. 3 
shows the trigger-piece. The catches, 14, with shoulders, 14 a, to engage the scears, 8, 
slide on the rods, 13, between the projections, iic, iid, of the trigger-piece, 11, 
which is mounted on a pivot, 12, at its front end. A tooth, 14 b, on the underside 
of each catch, 14, is adapted to engage with the rear edge of the movable plate, 19, 
shown in plan, Fig. 7, when the trigger is in its lower positipn. The catches, 14, 
are forced back against the springs, 15, by the locking-bolt, 5, when the gun is 
broken down. 

With the pivoted plate, 19, locked by the handle, 20, in the position of Fig. 7, 
the left-hand catch, 14, moves forward and brings the shoulder, 14A, under the 
scear, 8, when the bolt, 5, is withdrawn, the right-hand catch being retained by its 
tooth, 14B, engaging at the point b with the rear edge of the plate, 14. When the 
trigger has been lifted to fire the left barrel, the tooth, 14B, of the right catch 
moves forward until the shoulder, 14A, bears against the rear end of the scear. The 
return of the trigger to its lower position is checked by a piston on the arm, 1 1 b, 
working in the cylinder, 25. When the trigger returns to its lower position, the 
tooth, 14B, on the right catch passes into the opening, c, in the plate, 19, and 
the shoulder, 1 4A, is carried forward under the scear. The hammers are so shaped 
as to lift the tails of the scears clear of the catches when the barrels are fired. When 
it is desired to fire the right barrel first, the plate, 19, is turned by means of the 
handle, 20, to engage the tooth, 146^ on the right-hand catch, 14. 

Lancaster's single-trigger gun. 

In the mechanism patented by Mr. H. A. A. Thorn (Charles Lancaster & Co.) 
(dated 1895), the end is achieved by simpler means. A switching trigger-blade is 
arranged in conjunction with the interceptor, or, as the patentee prefers to call it, a 
" time stud " (k in the illustrations). The other parts not of the usual construction are 
the switching blade e' and e", the single trigger and its pivot f, and a gearing 
lever h, pivoted upon a slide j at i. The part h' is actuated by a cam surface 
formed on the tumbler of the right-hand lock, and h- actuates the blade of the 
switching trigger F on the left-hand side. As long as the tumbler of the right-hand 
lock is at cock, h^ retains the trigger-blade under the right-hand scear, but as soon 
as the cam surface of the lock h' ceases to be in contact either by the firing of the 
right-hand barrel, or by the slide j being moved forward by its stud projecting 
in front of the trigger finger the blade e is carried by its spring l to the position 

Double Guns with Single Triggers. 


shown on the dotted lines ; that is to say, under the scear of the opposite lock. It 

cannot do this, however, until all pressure has been taken from the trigger finger, 

because the " time stud " k blocks the way. When the trigger has been released, 

the spring l, pressing downward 

and transversely, causes the 

blade to dip under the "time 

stud ' and pass to its normal 

position under the left scear, 

where it remains until the right 

lock is cocked or the slide 

moved back. When the trigger 

is pressed it moves the back 

end of the trigger switch e 

upwards past k. Consequently 

it is impossible for e to pass 

underneath k until all pressure 

has been taken off the trigger, 

and it is also impossible for 

the second lock to be released 

until E has passed under k. 

The chief difficulty attach- 
ing to the " timing " system 
is the impossibility of adapting 
such mechanism to suit different 
people consequent upon the 
variation in recoil with different 
users. The mechanism is 
"timed" to move at a fixed 

speed, but some people pull the trigger so rapidly that the switching blade or 
piston has not sufficient time to perform its function, and there is a "balk," 
with consequent inability to fire the second barrel. 



This mechanism (patented 1898) consists of a trigger of ordinary form upon 
the blade of which is a pivoted piece a, pressed forward by a spring b ; as the 
scears fall into bent, the tail of the right-hand scear bears upon the sloped 

Charles Lancaster's Single-trigger Mechanism for 
Double-barrel Gun (16 parts). 


The Gun and its Development. 

portion of the pivoted piece a, and holds it back. On the trigger being raised, 
the right-hand scear is released and fires the right barrel. The recoil throws the 

The Greener Single-trigger (5 pieces). 

pivoted piece farther back on its centre, and it immediately comes forward on the 
action of the recoil subsiding, its flange being brought under the left scear ready 
to fire the second barrel. It will thus be seen that the mechanism is not dependent 
upon recoil to put it into action ; there is no intermediate pull, and consequently 
there is no possibility of failure to fire the second barrel owing to the blocking of 
the trigger or scear, as is the case with the three-pull mechanism ; whether the gun 
is fired or not, but two pulls are required. 


Double Guns with Single Triggers. 


The whole of the mechanism, including pins and spring, consists of but five 
pieces ; these are strongly constructed, and it is probably the simplest and most 
reliable mechanism yet devised. The automatic block trigger safety, described on 
page 209, can be used in conjunction with this mechanism. The usual side safety, 
either automatic or independent, can also be employed, and a selective mechanism 
can, if recpired, be attached. 


The Westley-Richards single-trigger (Lard's patent, 1899) consists of nineteen 
pieces, and may be supplied with a selective trigger arrangement, adding an 
additional five parts to the mechanism. The usual top safety can also be fitted 
in conjunction with this single-trigger, and this may be actuated automatically 
or by the hand. 

The Westley-Richards Single-trigger (24 pieces 

In the illustration the parts may be described as a the firing plate, b the safety 
spur or detent lever, c the weighted lever assisting the action of the detent lever. 

The action of the mechanism is as follows, presuming the selective mechanism 
to be set for right and left. When the first trigger is pulled the firing plate a is 

502 The Gun and its Development. 

raised and releases the right scear. When the first barrel is fired, the toe of the 
detent lever b engages with the hook on the fixed pillar d, and, while in this 
position, prevents the involuntary pull from raising the firing plate sufficiently 
to fire the second barrel. 

After the first barrel has been discharged the weighted lever swings back, and the 
firing plate is held in such a position that the second firing lug is in contact with 
its scear. The second barrel is thus fired immediately upon the second conscious 
pull being taken.. 

It must not be supposed that the shooter habituated to two triggers will at once 
obtain all the advantages of the single trigger, but the average game shot should 
quickly become accustomed to it, and, providing he has been fortunate in his 
selection, should derive much satisfaction from its use. 

Miscellaneous. 503 




The Repeating Shot Gun is a weapon introduced some years ago, doubtless 
witii the intention of securing a mercantile success equal to that achieved by the 
Winchester and kindred magazine rifles. Let it be granted that the repeating rifle 
is the best mechanism for sporting rifles a point the author will by no means 
concede it does not follow that a shot gun constructed upon the same principle 
will fulfil the requirements of the wing shot. 

Repeating shot guns may be made with an under lever travelling as in the 
Winchester, Marlin, Kennedy, and other well-known magazine rifles ; or the 
mechanism may be worked by the left hand, as in the Spencer. The fore-end is 
furnished with a " hand-piece " sliding longitudinally, and actuating a more simple 
mechanism than that usually found in repeating arms. This gun can be functioned 
by the left hand whilst held to the shoulder, and without greatly disturbing the aim. 

The well-known shot. Dr. W. F. Carver, attempted to give a " boom " to this 
gun. He matched himself against time, had six Spencer shot guns, and two 
assistants to load. Dr. Carver failed, the guns jamming owing, it is said, to faulty 
shells. From what the author knows of Dr. Carver, and having supplied him with 
many thousands of shells and loaded cartridges, he is of opinion that this clever 
professional shot had cartridges and everything else as perfect as they could be 
made before he entered upon a trial of such importance. 

A public trial of the Spencer shot gun took place in America, and the following 
sentences are culled from the " Official Report " : " Defective shells were then 
fired. . . . Result Slight escape of gas above and below the breech mechanism, 
but none towards the rear." ' Considerable escape above and below, setting paper 
on fire in one case ; no escape of gas towards the rear." 

The gun was tested for rapidity, irrespective of aim. " Firer, expert for the 
Board; time, one minute; eight fired; two thrown out not fired." Magazine 
loaded before commencing to fire. Firer, representative of the gun ; one minute ; 
rounds fired, twenty-two. Firer for the Board ; time, one minute ; fired, twelve ; 


The Gun and its Development. 

thrown out not fired, three."